Passenger total soars

A RECORD number of people used the Northwest Regional Airport in August, helping drive traffic to a double-digit increase over the year before.

A RECORD number of people used the Northwest Regional Airport in August, helping drive traffic to a double-digit increase over the year before.

August’s 12,319 figure was 777 more than the previous monthly record high, which was 11,542 in August 2007.

This July the passenger count was 11,229, just short of the 11,471 in July 2007.

Airport general manager Carman Hendry said passenger traffic is now 13 per cent up so far in this fiscal year, which began April 1, compared to the same period last year.

“And just for August, we were up 20 per cent over last August. We had a fantastic August despite the weather,” he said.

Up to the end of August for this calendar year, the passenger count is 78,077, which is a big jump over the 70,494 for the same period in 2010.

By no coincidence, the July and August 2007 figures contributed to an annual record of 122,070 passengers for that year.

Industrial activity in the area rose with the start of NovaGold and Teck Cominco’s first attempt at developing the Galore Creek copper and gold mine and the provincial government announced the start of the Northwest Transmission Line. Both projects were, however, put on hold in late 2007.

The 2007 number dipped to 119,360 the following year followed by a drop to 107,996 in 2009 and 105,389 in 2010, figures attributed to the recession.

Hendry is predicting a very strong finish to 2011 with the renewed construction start to the Northwest Transmission Line, increased spending by Rio Tinto Alcan to modernize its Kitimat aluminum smelter, the start of work to construct a liquefied natural gas plant outside of Kitimat and mineral development work up north.

Northern Thunderbird service from Terrace to Dease Lake is doing well, he said.