The Trail Regional Airport (TRA) continues to be a reliable option for passengers if Pacific Coastal’s record of landing and take off is any indication.
The airport’s annual success rate is 88.5 per cent for morning flights and just over 90 per cent in the afternoon, for a combined total of approximately 89 per cent, according to an annual average just released by Don Goulard, Trail Regional Airport manager.
Pacific Coastal Airlines operates twice daily with direct flights to Vancouver out of TRA, accommodating over 20,000 passengers each year to Vancouver and their connecting destinations on a 1900 (19-seater) aircraft or SAAB (30-seater).
Part of TRA’s success rate can be attributed to Global Positioning System (GPS) instrument approaches, a satellite-based navigational system developed to improve all-weather aircraft access.
To improve on the landing success rate the airport worked with JetPro Consultants and Nav Canada to further reduce the approach minimum descent altitude by an additional 1,000 feet, as low as 4,000 feet above sea level, which is the lowest in the area. The change has resulted in the weather playing less of a critical role and, therefore, increased the chances of completed arrivals and departures.
Pacific Coastal’s commitment to try every option it can to land its passengers in their destination also contributes to the airport’s reliability, added Goulard.
“We are serviced by an airline that makes every conceivable effort to get passengers in and out of the area,” he said. “Pacific Coastal Airlines will first try to land in Trail, and if the weather isn’t cooperating here then they’ll try to land in Castlegar, and if they still can’t land there, then they can even try Cranbrook, or they’ll head back to Vancouver.”
The airline that operates scheduled, charter and cargo services to destinations in British Columbia also has a bus located at the TRA should an aircraft revert its landing to a neighbouring airport and its passengers need transportation back to Trail.
Reliability may not be an area that needs improving, according to the numbers. Instead, the City of Trail, which owns and operates the rural airport out in Waneta, continues with ongoing infrastructure and operational improvements while pursuing commercial, industrial and residential development opportunities in hopes of improving the level of service and ridership.
The city is currently looking at the possibility of a small air terminal building, which is a contingent part of grant funding sought for a runway upgrade. At the same time, Trail hopes to tap into some terminal funding from the Ministry of Transportation earmarked for rural airports.