LNG, Mining Activity Make Northwest Regional Airport Much Busier

John Crawford
11/13/2018

An increase in mining activity, and preparation for the LNG Canada Project at Kitimat, are the leading factors -- as the Northwest Regional Airport is recording a huge increase in passenger numbers as the year winds down.
 
Five months ago, the Northwest Regional Airport held a celebration, to mark the completion of largest phase of its terminal renovation project  --- and it came just in time.

Passenger volume has seen a sudden and dramatic increase --- and it all started happening in the summer. 

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For the first six months of this year, arrival-and-departure numbers were roughly the same as they were a year earlier.

In fact, for the most part they were down slightly, although April and May's numbers were slightly ahead of 2017.

But in July, there was a sudden jump in the numbers -- and that has continued, and in fact accelerated, into October.

"Our numbers have been on the increase month-over-month from approximately seven per cent in July to August was 12 per cent, September 11 per cent -- all increases -- and now 22 per cent for the month of October," says airport manager Carman Hendry.

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He says, while it's no coincidence that October was also the month that Shell Canada and its joint venture partners announced a positive final investment decision for the LNG Canada project at Kitimat, that's not the only driver in the spike in air traffic through the airport.

"We believe it's also an increase in traffic for the mining industry and the local community having a little bit more disposable income," he said.

Hendry says the airlines had a fair amount of capacity and so were able to accommodate the increased passenger volume -- but he says with numbers likely to increase even more as the LNG project ramps up in the coming years, there could be challenges ahead.

"We're hoping to see some increases in routes, frequency especially to Vancouver so the industry doesn't affect the travel of the local community -- so LNG has been working so that they don't affect the capacity that is needed and required for the local community," said Hendry.
 

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