WITH passenger totals reaching record levels approaching 30 per cent over last year, Northwest Regional Airport manager Carman Hendry is predicting a more stable 2014.
“I think we’re going to maintain those numbers,” said Hendry of this year’s total which, as of the end of November, stood at 158,153 passengers.
Even without December traffic, the passenger count so far has surpassed 2012’s total of 139,193 and 2011’s 120,384.
“Valard will be done [with BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line] by June and the [Rio Tinto Alcan] Kitimat Modernization Project will be phasing down by next Christmas,” said Hendry.
He said industrial passenger activity next year will depend upon final investment decisions of several planned liquefied natural gas projects in the Kitimat area.
This year’s November passenger count was 15,022, less than October’s total of 16,895.
But the dip from October to November follows the traditional passenger traffic trend of previous years, said Hendry.
“Our highest month each year is August, perhaps it has something to do with people returning to school,” he said.
In the meantime, the airport has again been turned down in its bid to offer customs clearance to international traffic.
It means aircraft from abroad carrying Terrace-bound passengers will have to first touch down at airports in Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton before continuing.
That’s a hindrance not only to business traffic, given the number of potential liquefied natural gas projects with international investors, but also to tourism, said Hendry.
“What we’ve been saying is we’re sorry, but can you please write a letter to the federal government,” he said.
The airport early next year will be releasing a 20-year master development plan.
“It’s an outlook and a lot of it will depend upon industrial activity in the region and it can be adjusted,” said Hendry.