More passengers have been using the Northwest Regional Airport so far this year compared to last year.

More passengers have been using the Northwest Regional Airport so far this year compared to last year.

More people using airport

PASSENGER TRAFFIC at the Northwest Regional Airport is up four per cent for the first quarter of this calendar year compared to 2010.

PASSENGER TRAFFIC at the Northwest Regional Airport is up four per cent for the first quarter of this calendar year compared to 2010.

The increase, from 23,806 to 24,929 passenger movements, has manager Carman Hendry forecasting the facility will reach the 110,000 mark by the end of its fiscal year which began April 1.

That would be an increase of 4,000 passengers from the last fiscal year which ended March 31.

The forecast is still short of the 122,070 passengers recorded in 2007 and the 119,360 in 2008 but it tops the 107,996 in 2009 and the 105,389 of 2010.

Hendry’s optimism stems from signs of an improving economy based on the ramping up of major industrial projects in the area.

One sign that could lead to a bump in passenger numbers is the scheduling of a fourth week day flight this spring by Air Canada Jazz.

It means a morning departure from Terrace and a late return from Vancouver.

“We just might see some more people flying because of the increase in capacity,” said Hendry.

“What it does is offer people the chance to stay in Vancouver a little bit longer,” he said of the Jazz night time return to Terrace.

In terms of airport facility work this year, the property just to the west of the long term parking lot is going to be cleared in case overflow parking is needed.

An estimate will be prepared on fixing up and sealcoating the eastern section of Bristol Road.

But the airport authority will have to line up financial assistance to pay for the work, added Hendry.

There is a federal program providing money for airport facilities but it applies only to items involving aircraft in one way or another, he said.