West Kootenay Regional Airport. (Betsy Kline photo)

West Kootenay Regional Airport readies to resume flights this fall

Pacific Coastal Airlines resumed flights from the Trail Regional Airport in June

The City of Castlegar is preparing to resume commercial flights at the West Kootenay Regional Airport (WKRA).

“We are continuing to work with Air Canada and it’s presumed scheduled flights will resume Sept. 8,” said airport manager Patrick Gauvreau.

On its website, Air Canada is currently selling seats to Vancouver and Calgary starting October 1. Three daily flights to Vancouver are available, and one to Calgary.

COVID-19 mitigation work is already being done to equip the terminal with tempered glass barriers at key locations and to add new signage and floor markers.

Gauvreau says the city expects confirmation regarding Air Canada’s plans by two weeks before the Sept. 8 target.

Other upcoming work at the airport includes runway friction calibration tests — which are needed every two years — and air side audits for the runways, taxiways and apron.

“This will involve inspecting all our runways and taxiway markers, air side signage, and updating our pavement load rating,” said Gauvreau.

The WKRA saw 400 plane movements during July including two medevac flights. A movement is considered a landing, take-off or simulated approach to the runway.

There was very little revenue at the airport during July as most of the movements were due to Cessna and piston engine aircraft which are not charged landing fees.

Revenue for April was $29,000 — down from $41,000 last year for a 28 per cent loss.

Revenue for May was $18,000 — down from $75,000 last year for a 76 per cent loss.

June revenue was only $7,400 — down from $90,000 last year for a 92 per cent loss.

Meanwhile, commercial flights from the Trail Regional Airport via Pacific Coastal Airlines resumed June 1.

Pandemic protocols for Pacific Coastal include limiting the sale of seats on Beechcraft 1900 airplanes to 18 seats to allow passengers to have their own independent seat (middle bench seat in the rear of the airplane will be blocked).

“We continue to work with our airport partners to help customers and staff be able to physical distance when utilizing the airport facilities, including pre-board security screening areas,” the airlines states. “Visual markers and other items are being installed in airport terminals (where possible) to encourage people to physically distance themselves from others. We ask customers to not bring family or friends into the airport who are not travelling.”

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