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Later this month, Nelson’s John Dooley and Castlegar’s Lawrence Chernoff will bring the Kootenay mayor tag-team to WestJet offices in Calgary. The goal of their mission is to help sell the airline on the West Kootenay Regional Airport.
Our region’s main commercial airport is a key cog in the economy of every West Kootenay community. The movement of people in and out of the region bolsters tourism and enables business to be conducted beyond our borders.
The service at the Castlegar airport is also one of the key contributors to holding the full potential of this region back. Renown as one of the most difficult instrument approaches in North America and plagued by our unstable mountain weather, the “Cancelgar” mantle is well earned and tough to shake.
Mayor Dooley is excited about the prospect of WestJet planes being able to secure better reliability for the airport. Apparently the airline is investing in new technology that enables their Dash 8 aircrafts to land in more adverse conditions. If this is the case, then it would seem the carrier is perfectly suited for a West Kootenay stop.
Providing competition for Air Canada’s Jazz would also be welcomed. The current commercial airline monopoly that exists at the Castlegar airport tends to foster an air of arrogance. Bringing in a scrappy competitor like WestJet can only mean Jazz would be forced to raise its game.
As for the concern over another airline further damaging our environment, that argument only serves to muddy the waters. Councillor Candace Batycki may be right that additional emissions from airplanes impact the environment, but flight paths are really just a carpool lane in the sky. Would the councillor rather the hundreds of people who fly to Vancouver and Calgary each week hop in their SUVs and make the drive instead?
WestJet would be a welcome addition to our regional economy. The airline will not add stops just to be the nice guy; it will boil down to whether it enhances the bottom line.
Dooley and Chernoff have their work cut out for them, but we wish them luck.