AIRPORT passenger traffic is up 30 per cent as of the end of August this year compared to the same time period in 2012.
And this August’s passenger total at the Northwest Regional Airport of 18,026 is more than 1,400 passengers higher than July’s figure of 16,596.
August’s number, the highest ever monthly total recorded at the airport, makes for a year to date passenger figure of 109,760.
Airport manager Carman Hendry said the July to August jump is even more startling given that Air Canada Jazz and Hawkair had the same flight schedules both months.
He attributed the increase to a quickened pace of work at Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter reconstruction project at Kitimat and to ongoing Northwest Transmission Line work and mine development to the north.
Hendry’s predicting September’s passenger number to be even higher because the instrument landing system at the Prince Rupert airport is temporarily out of order.
“When they get fog, we get their aircraft,” said Hendry.
The airport doesn’t count passengers arriving on flights diverted from other airports but does count – and charge – those passengers when they leave again.
Airlines are now experiencing load factors in the 73 per cent range meaning that for every 100 seats, 73 are filled.
“There’s still plenty of room,” said Hendry although noting passengers may not necessarily be able to book on the flights they want.
Particularly busy are early morning or late night flights appealing to business travellers.
“With the schedules the way they are now, it’s possible to fly in from the east [to Vancouver] and then up in one day without having to stay [in Vancouver] overnight,” said Hendry.
Also proving popular is the Hawkair/Central Mountain service from Terrace to Calgary via Prince George.
In the meantime, Hendry says luggage handling and other equipment belonging to WestJet is starting to arrive as that airline prepares to offer Terrace to Vancouver service the latter part of November.
It’ll be flying the route twice a day using new Q 400 aircraft.