Parking spots for LNG Canada first leased at the Northwest Regional Airport in 2015 hinted at eventual approval of the Kitimat project and the prospects of increased activity at the airport. (File photo)

Northwest Regional Airport traffic increases

LNG announcement has sparked interest

The Northwest Regional Airport could end up matching the record monthly passenger traffic numbers recorded in 2014 during the economic boom associated with Rio Tinto’s modernization project.

Airport general manager Carman Hendry says passenger traffic at the airport has been climbing steadily compared to last year, a sign of increased interest in the economic prospects for the area.

September’s total of 21,251 people was up 11 per cent over the same month last year, while August’s 23,856 figure marked a 12 per cent jump compared to last year. July’s 22,343 total was seven per cent higher than July 2017.

For now Hendry said the airport has bumped its passenger projections up to 228,000 for its fiscal year beginning April 1, which would surpass totals of the past several years but is not as high as 2014 when the passenger count exceeded 250,000.

The record passenger numbers came during the previous economic development surge brought about by Rio Tinto’s aluminum smelter rebuild at Kitimat, the construction of BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line and mining developments to the north.

He said apart from the increased traffic the airport has also been fielding inquiries about leasing and other commercial opportunities at the facility since last month’s LNG Canada Final Investment Decision.

“Phone calls. Lots of emails. There’s been a lot of interest,” said Hendry of the airport which markets itself as the central transportation hub for the region.

Just this summer the airport’s governing society purchased the large blue hangar located at the ‘T’entry intersection to the airport and has since leased it to Alberta-based ONEC, an engineering and construction company which works throughout Western Canada and which also has operations in the western U.S.

That building once housed maintenance operations for now-defunct regional carrier Hawkair.

In anticipation of continued growth, the airport has also expanded its long-term parking area which can now hold up to 800 vehicles, which doubled the previous parking capacity, noted Hendry.

As well, the rental car parking area which was located beside the short-term parking area at the main terminal building has been moved to a new location beside the terminal building’s cargo handling facility.

The former rental car parking area has just been converted to a 40-spot paid lot for people who want the convenience of parking as close as possible to the terminal building, said Hendry.

“You park, go in, check in, go to the restaurant and then call us at the airport office,” he said. “It’s $20 a day and you can park there for as long as you want.”

Along with increased economic activity, the airport is also exploring the idea of displaying local artwork inside the main terminal building.

To that end, it has been canvassing the members of its non-profit ownership society — the City of Terrace, the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce and the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce — for ideas, said Hendry.

The airport society does not have a budget to purchase artwork so a revolving series of art could be an option, he said.

kitimat kitamaatlng canadanorthwest regional airport

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bob Rypma, left, and Jim Tiviotdale, former and current Kitimat Flying Club presidents, respectively, standing on the moss-covered runway at the Kitimat Air Park, which will be redone in the coming year thanks to a grant approved by the BC Airports Access Program. (Clare Rayment photo)
Kitimat Air Park to get major refurbishment, helipad

The club has been in the process of applying for the grant for two years, including two applications

WorkSafeBC is investigating after a death at a Kitimat concrete plant last Friday (Oct. 23) (Black Press file photo)
BC Coroners Service, WorkSafeBC investigating after death at Kitimat worksite

The fatality occurred last Friday (Oct. 23) and investigations into the incident are underway

Louise Avery is the longest serving Curator and Director at the Kitimat Museum. Here, she’s standing in front of the new Haisla Heritage Section, which they worked hard on with Haisla members and organizations to ensure it was an accurate and respectful display of artifacts.
In Our Valley: Louise Avery

Louise Avery has been the Director and Curator at the Kitimat Museum for over 24 years

Nechako Toastmasters member Eleanor Kendall performing a speech as Mrs. Claus at a meeting when they were still meeting in person, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Wanda Shaw photo)
Turning fears into confidence: Kitimat Toastmasters go online amidst COVID-19

Nechako Toastmasters have moved virtual amidst COVID-19 restrictions

<em>Black Press file photo </em>
Clare’s Corner: Yes, love is strange — and an addiction

A little bit of love to help get you through those Monday blues

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Tyrell Giroux was arrested by Williams Lake RCMP on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Facebook video screenshot)
Tsilhqot’in leaders call for suspension of officers seen in controversial Williams Lake arrest

Disturbing video demands an immediate, independent investigation, says TNG

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Most Read