West Kootenay Regional Airport Receives COVID-19 Relief Funding
The West Kootenay Regional Airport has received funding to support COVID-19 recovery following significant revenue losses resulting from the global pandemic and its devastating impacts on the aviation industry.
The airport received $720,000 from the Province of B.C.’s COVID Airport Relief Program which supports operations at regional airports that provide regional forest fire services and medical safety services from April 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022.
The airport also received $375,000 as part of the Province of B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan and the B.C. Air Access Program which support essential upgrades to regional airports. This funding is dedicated to installing runway edge lighting to improve safety and reliability at the airport which has challenging terrain.
“This funding is very welcome news and ensures the airport is in a stable financial position to recover from COVID-19,” says Chris Barlow, Chief Administrative Officer. “For now, we’re continuing to operate for essential services and travel but this funding positions the regional airport for a strong recovery when travelers take to the skies again.”
The airport is an essential service to the region that supports medevac services. This funding ensures that critical maintenance activities that keep the airport within Transport Canada’s guidelines will not be affected. The funding also ensures that the airport will continue to run as a standalone business with no impact on taxation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the total passenger traffic was reduced by 87% compared to 2019, resulting in revenue losses of $900,000 in 2020. The City projects additional revenue losses of $1.2 million in 2021.
The airport remains focussed on providing a healthy and safe travel experience during the pandemic and delivering on a 25-year Airport Master Plan which focusses on improving reliability, maximizing revenue, improving airport operations, and providing affordable travel options to connect West Kootenay residents to their destinations.
The City of Castlegar is a service centre in the West Kootenay. The diversified and growing economy is focused on the forestry, energy and mining sectors in the valley, and commercial services in the City. Quality of life features backcountry adventure and an increasingly dynamic urban culture, including the Millennium Park & Ponds and Sculpture Walk.