AIRPORT PASSENGER traffic continues to grow with October’s count of 11,415 people surpassing September’s 11,291.
It’s enough for Northwest Regional Airport manager Carman Hendry to suggest the year-end tally could come close to 120,000 passengers.
That would be enough to place 2011 near the top of the list of highest annual totals.
“For the calendar year we’re up 14 per cent and for our fiscal year, which is April 1 to March 31, we’re up 17 per cent,” said Hendry.
October’s numbers pushed the calendar year to date tally to 100,783 passengers.
Hendry’s confident November and December figures will be strong but does say traffic does drop off as seasonal work winds down.
“But overall, the economy here is turning around,” he added.
Hendry said the airport’s parking lots are being well-used with any number of vehicles bearing the logos of companies placing people in the area to take advantage of contracts arising from Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter rebuild in Kitimat, ongoing preparations for a liquefied natural gas plant in Kitimat, preparations for the start of construction of the Northwest Transmission Line north of Terrace and mineral development up north.
He said aircraft traffic made up of scheduled, charter and private flights is up 20 per cent over last year.
“After the slowdown, this is a good feeling,” said Hendry.
He noted that decisions by the airport’s governing not-for-profit society to expand the waiting room area and improve luggage handling have paid off because the facility is able to handle the traffic volume.
Other good news came in the form of a new position created by the national agency responsible for navigation equipment.
The airport had been worried that when the single NavCanada technician here retired, the agency would not replace him and opt instead to send in people from down south instead should something go wrong.
The person will now be trained by the existing NavCanada technician.
“That’s good because the position was filled by a local person, someone who will want to stay here and not want to move on after a few years,” said Hendry.