As the WestJet livery-clad Pacific Airlines’ Saab 340B aircraft touched down on the sunny, mountain-lined runways of Cranbrook’s Canadian Rockies International Airport on Wednesday, it signalled the completion of a project nearly a decade in the making.
The arrivals gate of the airport was buzzing with activity as a who’s who of BC faces mingled together in anticipation of the momentous occasion. Airport manager Tristan Chernove took to a podium, bordered on either side by WestJet banners, to thank the crowd and give them a little backstory as to how WestJet came to service the East Kootenay.
Chernove had many people to acknowledge and thank, notably expressing that this would not have been possible were it not for the success of the current business partners of Air Canada and Pacific Coastal Airlines, without whose work to drive passenger growth, Chernove said, WestJet would not be here today.
Acknowledging the airport’s patrons themselves, Chernove said, “When I came and started talking with WestJet about wanting their service here in 2009, there were roughly 85,000 to 89,000 passengers coming through this airport, now we’re at 140,000 passengers.”