IT’S NO surprise that 2012 was a record year for the Northwest Regional Airport.
The ramping up of construction activity in the area requiring out-of-town workers was cited as the top reason for growth.
In 2012, 139,193 passengers travelled in and out of the airport compared to 120,384 in 2011 and 105,389 in 2010. That’s a jump of more than 15 per cent, with each month rising in the double-digit percentile except for December.
“This whole year, calendar year, is the strongest that we’ve had since the airport society has taken over operations of the airport,” said airport manager Carman Hendry.
The largest monthly climb was February at 24.9 per cent with 9,536 passengers traveling through. The lowest increase in passengers was in December at 9.6 per cent when 10,710 passengers used the facility.
The largest number of passengers was seen here in August with 13,808 passengers and the runner up was October with 13,086 passengers.
Such increases marked a change in the way airlines managed business here.
“This is the first year that we’ve had Air Canada and Hawkair do three flights a day, seven days a week,” said Hendry.
Air Canada also had a fourth flight running during the summer months.
“They both have capacity for expansion and both have stated that they’re willing to put on more aircraft when needed,” said Hendry.
Despite record growth Hendry did say the airport had expected passenger numbers to rise a little sooner than they did, citing a slower start to Rio Tinto Alcan’s Kitimat smelter modernization project as a reason.
“It’s all construction related,” Hendry said of 2013 expectations. “The modernization project has not peaked yet … We will see that growth here at the airport.”
One technological improvement coming to the airport is permitting planes to use GPS systems to guide them to the runway.
This means that planes equipped with the proper technology will be able to land in a wider variety of conditions than others which rely on the current land-based system.
The GPS landing system for the Terrace airport will come into effect as of August 2013, said Hendry.