View of the Trail Regional Airport from the Montrose cut-off on a smoky Tuesday afternoon. Airport manager Robert Baker reported the morning flight landed after a slight delay. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Smoky skies impact flights in the Kootenays

Two flights headed to Cranbrook were re-routed to the Trail airport on Friday

A little more hustle and bustle landed at the Trail Regional Airport (YZZ) last week when eastern smoky skies forced planes to divert to the city’s airfield.

Two flights that were originally intended to land in Cranbrook on Friday (Sept. 1) were re-routed to Trail, explained YZZ Manager Robert Baker.

“We were told that the smoke in the East Kootenay was impacting access by Pacific Coastal Airlines into the Cranbrook airport,” he told the Trail Times.

The Trail airport was notified about two incoming flights at 1 p.m.

The first flight from Kelowna landed at 2:30 p.m. followed by another plane from Vancouver at 3 p.m., then at 4:30 p.m. the regularly scheduled Vancouver to Trail flight landed.

Baker says Pacific Coastal Airlines managed everything very smoothly, for them, it was was just another set of flights.

“From the airport’s perspective, we got a taste of what it would be like at a larger airport with back-to-back-to-back flights,” Baker said.

“It was certainly a bit of excitement for the day, and we’re happy to have been able to help those travelers get to where they needed to go,” he added.

“Aside from the extra revenue from landing fees, we sold a bit of fuel, so a definite win-win for everyone.”

Passengers who needed to get to Cranbrook were met with a charter bus.

Baker said, “The bus came air side, so that passengers could conveniently move from the terminal building directly onto the bus.”

With the smoke migrating to the West Kootenay this week, YZZ could see the reverse happen whereby flights in this region need to divert elsewhere.

“Certainly this forest fire season is affecting everyone, and has quite a domino effect across the economy,” Baker said.

A special air quality statement in effect for the West Kootenay was issued by Environment Canada Tuesday morning.

High winds throughout the Southeast Fire Centre, paired with ongoing hot and dry conditions, resulted in increased fire behaviour and a High Risk (7) Air Quality Health Index.

The government advises the general population to consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if experiencing symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.

Those with underlying health conditions, the elderly, and children, are advised to reduce or reschedule outdoor activities.

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