Regional airport’s impact studied

Interest and impact of the Trail Regional Airport will be gauged in the coming weeks.

Interest and impact of the Trail Regional Airport will be gauged in the coming weeks as the city tries to put its municipal mind around its merit.

Victoria-based Wave Point Consulting was commissioned recently by the regional district to conduct an economic impact study on the airport, and last week Trail city council directed its staff to conduct a service review of the facility.

Both pieces of information will channel into the same conduit for council as they try and establish how much time, money and energy they will expend on the airport, and who its dancing partners will be.

Based on what the economic impact study says, noted Trail councillor Robert Cacchioni, decisions will be made on what happens next at the Greater Trail airport.

As well, the city-bred report will garner feedback from the airport’s regional stakeholders—including Warfield, Rossland, Montrose, Fruitvale and regional district areas A and B—to ascertain which of the political entities are in support of the airport or are not interested in supporting it.

“It doesn’t appear that everybody is really that on board in terms of the airport,” said Cacchioni. “This way it will give us an opportunity to analyze the airport, and give other communities the opportunity to take a look at whether or not they value this service … and see who is on board and who is not on board.”

Once complete, the city report will forward a recommendation from council on the airport’s makeup to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary board of directors.

The volunteer-run airport has been operating since 2005 after people turned the 60-year-old Trail Flying Club into a commercial airport to serve the community with affordable and reliable air service.

They trained for certification to handle most aspects of commercial air traffic except for passenger management and baggage handling (done by airline staff). At that time, just one daily direct Pacific Coastal Airlines flight from Vancouver was scheduled. Today, three flights operate.

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.

As a result, it is widely believed facilities cannot accommodate the amount of passengers coming through the airport and expansion is a necessity.

The $28,352 Wave Point study will measure the full economic impact of the Trail Regional Airport, forming a tool in determining the importance and role of air transportation service in the region.

It is expected to capture the full scope of the airport’s impacts, including logistics and the supply chain that it is dependent on.

The success of the project will depend on the input and participation of many stakeholders including the traveling public and employers, said Darryl Anderson, project manager for Wave Point Consulting.

“Public participation in the information gathering stage of the study, through the completion of a short on-line survey, will help ensure that the full benefits of the Trail Regional airport are captured and recognized,” he said in a press release.

People can participate in the web based survey at http://wavepointconsulting.ca/sectors/aviation.

The city’s service review report on the airport will take a look at what the associated costs of operating are, who is in favour of the service, whether they want to pay to be in the service, and who will deliver the service.