The West Kootenay Regional Airport (WKRA) is not on the list of regional airports that Air Canada will be resuming flights to as part of the company’s $5.9-billion deal with the federal government.
Resumption of flights to regional airports was included in the deal, and many were hoping that would mean service would resume soon at WKRA.
South Okanagan West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings has been lobbying for years on behalf of Castlegar’s airport and has been following the situation closely.
While he is happy to see that the airline will be resuming service to the Penticton airport by June 1 he says, “My real disappointment is that Castlegar was left off the list of restarted routes and I’ll continue to press Air Canada to resume that service.”
In a recent conversation with Air Canada, Cannings was told that during the pandemic the company had disposed of the Dash 8-300 planes that flew into Castlegar and the company did not have any other planes it felt comfortable using at WKRA.
Cannings was also told, however, that Air Canada is working on negotiating an agreement with an inter-line partner to operate services on their behalf. There was no timeline given for the negotiations.
This doesn’t mean that Air Canada is never coming back to Castlegar.
“Although the West Kootenay Regional Airport was not listed in Air Canada’s first announcement, the city understands Air Canada will be expected to return service to our regional airport as part of its agreement with the federal government,” says Castlegar’s communications manager Bree Seabrook.
“The aviation industry still faces a significant amount of uncertainty during the third wave of COVID-19 but the city is working hard to ensure the West Kootenay Regional Airport is well-positioned to offer the flight options travellers want and need when things return to normal.”
Other stipulations of the government’s financial package include Air Canada offering refunds for cancelled flights related to the pandemic and capping executive bonuses to $1 million.
Meanwhile, Central Mountain Air is continuing to offer flights to WKRA.