Dave Kumpolt, manager of airport development, reveals a classed-in walkway adjacent the tarmac at the Terrace-Kitimat airport.

Airport registers modest passenger increase

Manager anticipates further growth in 2018 as expansion project nears completion

Northwest Regional Airport passenger totals for 2017 came in at three per cent over 2016, a sign its general manager is taking as a “new normal” for the region’s largest airport.

“It’s a good number,” said Carman Hendry of 2017’s 224,144 passengers when compared to 2016’s 218,739.

The airport experienced explosive growth in the middle part of this decade thanks to Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter modernization project, BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line and speculation surrounding the potential for a regional liquefied natural gas industry.Passenger numbers passed through the 250,000 mark in 2014 before dropping to 239,095 in 2015 and then dipping again in 2016.

Hendry said construction activity at Pretium’s Brucejack gold mine near Stewart, which then officially went into production last spring, helped boost 2017’s total.

“And we’re seeing more people vacation in Hawaii and Mexico,” he said of other traffic.

READ MORE: New departure terminal open at Terrace-Kitimat airport

The announcement late last year that Rio Tinto is going ahead with a second tunnel at its Kemano hydro-electric generating station, a project worth US $473 million, will bolster traffic this year, Hendry added.

“We’re certainly going to see activity there,” he said when the project gets underway and as specialized work crews cycle in and out of the project.

And as traffic increases, the airport’s major construction expansion project to increase the efficiency of checking in passengers and to improve overall operations is nearing completion.

“We’re looking at March to be finished and our new hold room should be open Feb. 6,” said Hendry of the expansion project which, at $15 million, is being financed by federal and provincial grants and airport user fees.

The hold room by itself will be much larger, and have more washrooms, than the old one, adding to the comfort of passengers waiting to depart.

That additional space was needed because the airport’s two major customers, WestJet and Air Canada, often have aircraft leaving at approximately the same time.

The project is approximately 13 months behind schedule, a circumstance brought on at its early phases by winter weather and worker availability, but Hendry said it remains on budget.

“And we haven’t had to borrow any money,” he added.

When finished and fully open, Hendry said the new facilities should by themselves help market the airport as the region’s prime entry and exit point for air cargo and passengers.

“We’re the most reliable airport in the region,” he added of a list of improvements including a new aircraft landing system enabling pilots to land during inclement weather.

READ MORE: New landing system installed at Terrace-Kitimat airport

Next up on the airport’s capital projects list is repaving its main runway, something Hendry says is being planned for in the next year.

“This is something that should be done every 15 years and the last time was in 2001,” he said.

The project is estimated to cost in the range of $8 to $9 million and the expectation is that it will be financed by a federal airport improvement program.


 


newsroom@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Security guard now on patrol at three Terrace banks

Company hired to secure ATM vestibules due to safety concerns

LNG Canada sponsors fast-tracked driver’s license training in Terrace, Kitimat

The $80,000 contribution is part of the company’s commitment to hire locally

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

Most Read