Everything is ready at the West Kootenay Regional Airport for Central Mountain Air’s inaugural flight out of Castlegar.
Barriers are installed, signs are displayed, floor stickers indicate where people should stand and a Beech 1900D sits on the runway.
Central Mountain Air’s (CMA) first flight will take place Oct. 1, with daily flights to and from Vancouver to follow.
City officials, management and representatives from CMA were joined by the media Tuesday afternoon for a sneak peek at how things will run at the airport with a new airline and COVID-19 protocols in place in the terminal.
The changes start right at the door, with only one way in and one way out. Passengers are required to wear masks everywhere in the terminal building and non-passengers are asked to say their goodbyes outside.
Plexiglas barriers have been installed at the ticket counters and CMA and airport staff will be wearing masks.
Spaces have also been marked out at the luggage carousel to encourage social distancing and avoid the usual free-for-all luggage grab.
Another change at the airport is at the car rental counter where visitors will notice the absence of Budget Rent a Car and the addition of PractiCar.
On average, 75,000 passengers pass through the WKRA each year. But no commercial passenger flights have departed from the airport since Air Canada cancelled all of its flights back in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CMA’s CEO Bob Cummings attended the event and said Castlegar city council has been great to work with.
“It’s great to have that kind of warmth and help,” said Cummings.
Cummings said he thinks his company will be able to offer a more reliable service than what Castlegar has seen in the past.
“Our flight leaving Vancouver and then doing a return back should mitigate some of the potential for weather to disrupt our service,” said Cummings.
“We try to be as absolutely as reliable as we can.”
Cummings told Castlegar News that the company has seen Castlegar as the right size centre for their company for quite some time, but as long as Air Canada was serving the market well expanding here wasn’t really an option.
Cummings said CMA is not ready to make a commitment as to how long they will continue to service Castlegar beyond the end of the year.
“We are focusing hard on the next three months and we will see how it goes,” he said.
Cummings also announced an introductory offer that will expire Friday, Oct. 2 at midnight. The code CASTLEGAR25 will get you a 25-per-cent discount on flights.