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Navigational performance solution has Castlegar airport poised for air travel return

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
June 24th, 2022

Call it Cancel-gar no more.

The region’s main airport has found a partial solution to erasing the moniker that has dogged the airport for years — and cancelled countless flights — since it was established.

In a bid the City of Castlegar-owned facility is applying to the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) Strategic Priorities Fund, hoping to implement a navigational performance solution expected to reduce the number of cancellations — due to river and valley fog — and expand the terminal for the arrival of larger aircraft.

The main part of that is purchasing a Required Navigational Performance (RNP), wrote Kirk Duff, the mayor of Castlegar.

“(This) will improve customer confidence in the airport, increase bookings and reduce carbon emissions by minimizing flight times and the need for circling,” he said in his letter to the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) board of directors.

“The city invested $1 million in an RNP solution and anticipate it will be in place in 2023.”

The instrument approaches to Castlegar are considered among the most challenging of any in use at a commercial airport in North America.

As well, the upgrades would include the expansion of the terminal building, vehicle entrance and parking.

The airport is looking to position itself for an expected jump in air travel as the post-pandemic travel restrictions begin to ease.

The city has predicted a return to 85,000 annual passengers next year and, as a result, is on track to institute some critical upgrades to the facility and to enhance the experience of the people who choose to fly.

Overall, the city will be applying for $6 million in grants, with both projects — the RNP and the expansion of the building, vehicle entrance and parking — totalling $10 million.

In recognition of the importance of the West Kootenay Regional Airport, the RDCK board is providing a letter of support to the City of Castlegar’s application to the UBCM fund.

Request for support

The West Kootenay Regional Airport serves passengers from the entire region. It is a major commercial hub and is supporting the economic recovery of the region, post-pandemic.

It also serves as the air tanker base for the Southeast Fire Centre and services air ambulance flights which support public safety.

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