Airport to be busy place in fall

THE AIRPORT is going to be at least as busy this fall and winter as it is this summer.

  • Aug. 27, 2013 2:00 p.m.

THE AIRPORT is going to be at least as busy this fall and winter as it is this summer with the traditionally higher travel volumes that come from vacation travel and industrial activity.

Hawkair’s fall and winter schedule contains the same number of flights to Vancouver in place now and WestJet’s arrival the end of November adds two weekday flights to Vancouver.

And although Air Canada Jazz, which added a fifth flight from Vancouver to Terrace which arrives late at night and leaves early the next morning, still hasn’t released its fall and winter plans, Northwest Regional Airport manager Carman Hendry notes passengers will have lots of travel options.

“Oh, definitely. Our capacity will increase,” said Hendry.

WestJet Encore’s Q400 aircraft has a capacity of 78 people, he noted.

As it is, the airport marked another record passenger month in July with 16,831 arrivals and departures, a clear 2,101 increase over June and 4,149 more than July 2012.

Up to the end of July, the airport tallied 92,163 arrivals or departures, nearly 15,000 more compared to the end of July 2012.

Hendry said the introduction by Hawkair of a Terrace-Prince George-Calgary service this summer has helped boost numbers.

The airline is running the service in conjunction with partner airline Central Mountain Airlines.

That company had been flying a 19-passenger aircraft from Terrace to Prince George but the new service features a Hawkair Dash 8 which can carry twice as many passengers.

WestJet’s Robert Palmer said the company through its Encore regional arm was looking forward to its Terrace schedule.

“We do appreciate that there is considerable interest in the new service and we are very excited to be coming to Terrace,” he said.

“Guests are booking flights on the new route and we are pleased with what we are seeing so far.”

WestJet’s arrival has been anticipated for some time with Terrace being mentioned as a destination  as it developed plans for its Encore service aimed at smaller centres.

It invited Northwest Regional Airport airport officials to Calgary, along with people from other smaller centres, in order to make a sales pitch.

Hendry said the airport offered no financial inducement to WestJet to set up shop in Terrace.

“There was no way we could offer any kind of deal,” he said.

“When we had our meeting we said that and if they want to come, they were welcome. And they did come.”

Unlike other airports, the local one does not charge airlines landing fees, Hendry continued.

Instead it charges passengers an amount for arrivals or departures – $14.

The airport will consider offering an airline an inducement to service Terrace but only if the airline wants to establish a new route.

“In this case, Terrace-Vancouver is not a new route,” said Hendry of WestJet service.

The increase in flights  means the airport will have to hire several more people simply because it will be open longer, up to 21 hours a day, he said.

That’s particularly important in winter months for late evening or early morning flights as airport workers will have to make sure the runway is clear, Hendry added.

While the increase in passenger traffic means an increase in airport revenues, Hendry added a cautionary note.

The more money an airport makes, the less it will receive from a federal improvement assistance program.