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Contentious competition continues between airports in Trail and Castlegar

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
March 10th, 2016

The duelling airport issue between Castlegar and Trail continues, as each community jockeys to position its own airport as the legitimate regional amenity.

The continued contention was once again brought to the public eye by a press release issued by the City of Trail yesterday, claiming the landing rates at the Trail Regional Airport are significantly better than those of the West Kootenay Regional Airport in Castlegar.

The release said that landing rates in Trail for January were 56.9 per cent compared to Castlegar’s 37.14 per cent, while February saw TRA rates at 94.55 per cent compared to WKRA’s 68.69 per cent – but added the following caveat about the validity of the numbers they were presenting: “WKRA stats are estimates based on info gathered from public sources; therefore, the City of Trail can’t guarantee WKRA stats’ accuracy.”

The release went on to argue that weather is less an issue for the TRA than for the WKRA.

“The TRA’s success rates can be attributed to the airport’s Global Positioning System (GPS) instrument approaches,” the press release read. “The City of Trail is working with JetPro Consultants and Nav Canada to further reduce the approach minimum descent altitude by an additional 1,000 feet, the lowest in the area. As a result, the weather plays a less critical role of completing arrivals and departures at the TRA.

“Plans to improve the terminal building and enhance operations at TRA will continue to be reviewed into 2016 as the TRA remains dedicated to providing our regional customers with reliable air access at competitive travel rates.”

The City of Castlegar, however, took exception to Trail’s figures, responding in a press release today, indicating that Trail’s percentages don’t take into account Castlegar’s much higher number of flights.

The release said the number of successful flights in Castlegar in January was 98 compared to Trail’s 70 and, in February was 136 compared to Trail’s 92.

“The West Kootenay Regional Airport’s success rates can be attributed to the airport’s comprehensive flight schedule that provides direct and secure connections to both Calgary and to Vancouver,” the Castlegar release said. “YCG was also pleased to welcome three Pacific Coastal flights in January, 2016 at (WKRA) when they were unable to land in Trail.

“The City of Castlegar is working with the Federal government and Nav Canada to further reduce the approach minimum descent altitude by an additional 1,500 feet, which would be the lowest in the area,” the release continued. “When approved, the weather will play a less critical role of completing arrivals and departures at the YCG.

“With the (WKRA) responsible for moving over 70,000 passengers per year in and out of the West Kootenay region, the City continues to plan for runway and terminal building improvements.

“The (WKRA) will continue to move forward in 2016 and remains dedicated to providing our region with reliable safe and secure air access at competitive travel rates.”

The issue has been a contentious one in the region for years now, as the two airports struggle to position themselves as the recognized regional airport in the area.

Categories: GeneralPolitics

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