Prince Albert Airport a WestJet service hopeful
A recent announcement by WestJet has to some degree reinvigorated enthusiasm for the city-operated Prince Albert Airport’s future.
Using a fleet of approximately 40 smaller turboprop aircraft, WestJet announced last week that they’re considering launching a new short-haul regional airline as early as 2013.
The new airline would serve to increase their current feed of 71 cities to include additional connections.
“Our single fleet of Boeings will be joined by a sister company operating a single fleet of turboprops to maintain maximum efficiencies for both airlines,” WestJet chairman Clive Beddoe said in a press release.
Although the idea has only just been proposed, mayor Jim Scarrow said that the City of Prince Albert has positioned itself nicely in advance of the unexpected announcement.
Through recently implemented user fees the city has already raised about $330,000 toward the construction of a new terminal.
“I think that’s a pretty good figure to begin with and is indicative of the kind of use the airport is already receiving,” he said. “I think the timing for the WestJet announcement is excellent for us.”
In addition, Scarrow expects an about $6 million federally funded runway replacement is expected to be completed by the spring. Initially planned on being done already, the recent weight restrictions on the Diefenbaker Bridge have delayed the transport of the heavy asphalt.
Scarrow cautioned that the WestJet announcement is merely a proposed idea at this point, and if implemented, the Prince Albert Airport isn’t necessarily on their list of approved locations.
A letter of interest will be sent to WestJet some time this week, Scarrow said.
If they aren’t successful in attracting WestJet, Scarrow remains optimistic that another major airline will come up again in the future. It isn’t just City of Prince Albert’s populace the Prince Albert Airport services, after all.
“Prince Albert more and more is thinking regionally,” Scarrow said. “We can do these things with the communities that increasingly rely on the city’s services.”
Located six kilometers east of Prince Albert, the Prince Albert Airport currently accommodates the airlines Transwest Air and Pronto Airways, which together provide service from Prince Albert to Regina, Saskatoon, La Ronge, Stony Rapids, Fond-du-lac, Uranium City, Points North, and Wollaston, according to the airport’s website.
“We’ve had very strong co-operation from these airlines,” Scarrow said, adding that the airlines have been receptive to the user fees that will be used to build a new terminal.
The airport has benefitted greatly from the mining industry up north, Scarrow said.
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