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Castlegar Airport updates: shuttle bus, taxiway contract, fee increases

The changes come after a review of fees found WKRA was well below that of other airports
Grants will help pay for a taxiway expansion at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline

Fees for everything from parking your car to parking your airplane are going up at West Kootenay Regional Airport.

Castlegar City Council voted to increase fees at the West Kootenay Regional Airport and move its latest improvement project forward at its April 15 meeting.

A review of WKRA’s fee structures, which hadn’t previously been done since 2007, showed that its fees were significantly below many other similar sized Canadian airports.

Compared to the six airports analyzed in the review, WKRA terminal fees were 46 per cent less than average and aircraft parking fees were 36 per cent less than average.

Airport manager Maciej Habrych said keeping fees and charges in line with market rates and airport needs ensures that users pay for all airport operations, and that there is no reliance on property taxes to fund the airport.

Air traffic at WKRA is anticipated to increase once the long-awaited computer-based Required Navigation Performance (RNP) is approved. RNP uses GPS along a precise flight path to create a high level of accuracy, offering significant safety benefits over traditional landing approaches.

More demand equals more costs, and the RNP approach itself has significant operating costs for things like annual certifications.

Habrych says the new fees keep both those things in mind.

As landing fees make up a large portion of the aeronautical fees paid by commercial airlines, the City of Castlegar has set incremental increases over the next five years to aid airlines in their business planning.

Landing fees are based on an aircraft’s weight. Currently a company landing a Q400 at the airport pays about $380 per arrival. The new fee will increase to $548.

Terminal fees are paid by air carriers for access to a commercial apron and terminal access to conduct their operations. This fee is based on seating capacity. The rate for a Q400 will rise from $193 to $275. The rate for a plane with seating for less than 10 passengers will pay $20, compared to $16 previously.

Overnight aircraft parking fees will range from $10 to $60 based on the aircraft’s weight.

The hourly vehicle parking rate will stay the same, but daily rates will increase from $8 to $10, weekly rates will increase from $50 to $55 and monthly rates will increase from $195 to $200.

Passenger facility fees will remain at $25 as those were updated in 2022. This fee is charged to departing passengers to help cover capital upgrades and airport facility investments.

Final adoption of the new fee bylaw is scheduled for the May 6 city council meeting.

Shuttle bus

In addition, Habrych announced that Air Canada has decided to continue their flight cancellation shuttle bus service for another year.

The shuttle runs when there is a last-minute weather-related landing or takeoff issue. The airline transports passengers via bus between Castlegar and Kelowna to connect with flights to or from Vancouver. The initiative is directed and financed by Air Canada.

Habrych said the decision was based on last winter’s success when more than 1,300 people utilized the service.

RELATED: Castlegar flight cancellation bus helped passengers reach destinations this winter

Taxiway expansion contract

City council awarded the $4.8-million construction contract for the WKRA Apron Rehabilitation and Taxiway Extension Project to Copcan Civil.

Copcan is based in Nanaimo, but has a Kootenay office in Rossland.

The total estimated project cost is $5.4 million, which includes fuel tank removal, preliminary design, detailed design, tendering services, engineering services and construction.

Two grants are helping to pay for the project: $2.36 million from the Transport Canada Airport Capital Assistance Program and $1.66 million from the British Columbia Air Access Program.

The remaining $1.36 million will be funded through long-term borrowing from the Municipal Finance Authority over 30 years. The annual debt servicing will be approximately $91,000, which will be funded from airport reserves.

Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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