DESPITE A bad patch of weather in January, passenger numbers at the Northwest Regional Airport continue to be very healthy.
The airport recorded 8,916 passengers going through in January, a jump of 18 per cent when compared to January 2011’s passenger figure of 7,554.
Airport manager Carman Hendry said numbers would have been higher had not it been for nine missed flights because of weather and one missed flight for another reason.
“But Jazz did add a few extra flights to make up for [the weather] and so did Hawkair,” he said of attempts to ensure weather-stranded passengers got to their intended destinations.
Hendry said the January figure reflects the growing strength in the regional economy which is benefitting from a now-official project to rebuilding Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter in Kitimat, the start of work on the Northwest Transmission Line and the expectation of final approval for the first of what could be as many as three liquefied natural gas plants in Kitimat.
He said passenger choices are increasing as Hawkair has now added a second flight to its Saturday schedule and Jazz is expected to add a fourth daily flight in spring.
“I think both airlines are feeling pretty confident,” said Hendry of increasing business in providing Terrace to Vancouver service. “The numbers are looking pretty good.”
The Northwest Regional Airport ended 2011 with a passenger count of 120,384, the second highest total in its operating history.
The highest count was in 2007 when the passenger total was 122,070.
In 2008, the annual total was 119,360 but numbers dropped to 107,389 in 2009 and 105,389 in 2010 as the worldwide recession’s effects reached the northwest.
For the moment, however, Hendry said crews are dealing with the effects of 520cm or 17 feet of snow falling between Nov. 1 to the end of January.
“Our guys are running out of places to put the snow,” he said.