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Pacific Coastal Vice President responds to petition

Despite a petition of over 800 names pushing for increased service at Trail Regional Airport, the facility’s only carrier says it won’t be increasing the reach of its flights out of the Silver City.

Spencer Smith, vice president of commercial services for Pacific Coastal Airlines, said the 809-name petition delivered July 16 to council asking for expanded service from Trail Regional Airport to Calgary or Kelowna has some merit.

But he ruled out the chance of the Lower Mainland-based aviation company from connecting to Calgary, hinting that Kelowna is in the crosshairs—but down the road.

“Operationally and structurally we just don’t have the means to support that quite yet,” he said. “We just don’t have the planes.”

Smith noted that the cost to fly into Calgary would be higher than they were willing to foot at this point, plus their access would be convoluted and inconvenient, having to use the executive class area of the airport in the industrial portion of the airport.

He also pointed to the service up the road in Castlegar with Air Canada, and potentially WestJet, that would nullify any regional advantage they may have.

“It’s a big diversion to our network, having to go to Calgary,” Smith said.

But Kelowna would not. Smith said the Okanagan city destination was a possibility, since it would connect in well with their existing network.

“It’s something that we would like to do at some point, but not right now,” he said.

A man who wished not to be identified deposited the petition—collected in six days—in council chambers July 16 during the public question period portion of their regular meeting.

There was no indication of who collected the names or who circulated the petition. Some city councillor names were included on the petition.

Smith said they have been approached in the past by local groups asking for service to Calgary or Kelowna out of the Trail airport. Where the latest request came from, he wasn’t sure.

“Unfortunately, there are some individuals that speculate on our behalf that give indications that we are doing something when we are not,” he said.

Pacific Coastal Airlines operates three flights daily from Trail to Vancouver. According to airport statistics, in the first four months of 2012 more than 10,000 passengers flew through the airport, half of the 20,000 total passengers in all of 2011.

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