Terrace-Kitimat Airport Society president Gary MacCarthy, Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc and Skeena MLA Ellis Ross cut the ribbon at the celebration of the grand opening this past June of the Northwest Regional Airport’s expanded departure area. (File photo)

Northwest Regional Airport eyes another major project

This time, expanded arrivals area being planned

With its vastly improved and expanded check-in and departure area open for just six months now, the Northwest Regional Airport already has its eye on another major project — a renovated and larger arrivals area.

Envisioned is two baggage belts instead of the current one belt, more room for people waiting for their baggage and for people awaiting incoming passengers, larger washrooms in that section of the terminal, relocating administration offices and vehicle rental offices and possibly a larger restaurant area.

“An expansion could add 10 per cent to the existing terminal, squaring off the building,” says airport general manager Carman Hendry.

“We’re looking for more room for arriving passengers. With two of the Q-400s in at the same time, it can be fairly tight in there now. Our goal is to create a more stress-free environment.”

Called Phase Two, the airport is looking for bids from architects to advance the project to the point a finished package of exact drawings and construction plans can then be put out to tender.

That doesn’t yet mean the airport will tender the project immediately but it will give it a solid footing to apply for various grants from the provincial and federal governments to help pay for the project, said Hendry.

“What we want is to have something ready that can be submitted to whatever program that exists when the time comes,” he added. “For this project we’re two years away at best.”

The goal is to meld this new project into the look of the new departure area which was opened in June at a cost of $18.6 million. Federal and provincial monies provided approximately half of the financing with the remainder coming from landing fees.

Hendry noted the facility has now developed into the northwest’s key airport thanks to mining and liquefied natural gas developments in Kitimat.

Passenger traffic began to grow substantially in the early part of the decade thanks to Rio Tinto’s Kitimat smelter modernization project, the construction of BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line running north of Terrace and mining.

Just this fall direct flights on WestJet to Calgary were resumed twice weekly and as of next May, Air Canada is adding a fifth daily Terrace to Vancouver flight.

The airport has set Feb. 1, 2019 as the submissions date from interested architectural firms and anticipates awarding the contract in mid-March.

At the same time, the airport is looking for a company to submit a proposal to repave its taxiway leading to where aircraft park in front of the terminal building and the parking area itself.

The main parking area where aircraft come to a stop contains three concrete pads sufficient to handle the weight of the aircraft. That’s an increase of one pad which was put into place as part of the check in and departure area expansion.

Hendry said this project falls in line with the airport’s rehabilitation and maintenance schedule.

“Typically asphalt can last 12 to 15 years depending upon the weather,” he said.

“What we’re looking for is something we can use to apply to the [federal] Airport Capital Assistance Program. We’re two years away from this at best,” Hendry added.

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