City council heard an update on the latest developments at the Red Deer Airport during Monday’s regular meeting.
Red Deer Airport continues to experience significant growth which included a 513% hike in scheduled passenger traffic as of the end of 2013 over 2012.
And with the scheduled service six days per week to Kelowna, five days per week to Fort McMurray and three times daily to Calgary, the airport’s 2014 scheduled passenger numbers are projected to reach between 35,000 passengers or 280% increase, said RJ Steenstra, the Airport’s CEO.
He told council that this year’s major stories also included securing Air Canada with connections to national and international destinations for Central Alberta, regaining security screening services by the Canadian Air Transport Security Association and a new non-stop scheduled service to Central Alberta through Northwestern Air direct to Kelowna and Fort McMurray. There has been steady increases in service by Northwestern Air across the board, he said.
“They are going to have three aircraft based at Red Deer by the end of 2013, and two more in 2014,” he said. “Three flight crews, two customers service agents and a mechanic now reside in Red Deer. Nine jobs have been created with Northwestern Airlines. And the airline really views Red Deer as a mini-hub to their future growth and success. So that is significant,” he said.
With Air Canada’s bolstered presence at the Airport, 10 jobs have been created. Back in September, the Airline launched service from Red Deer with one stop connections to anywhere in the world.
Four jobs were also created this year with passenger screening returned to the Red Deer Airport.
There has also been interest shown from other airlines and various aviation businesses, he noted, so things have certainly turned around over the last few years.
“It’s a growing asset in our region, and we are excited about 2014,” he said, pointing out the Airport’s significance as an economic driver in the region. “They are a big part of the growth of the community.”
Looking ahead, Steenstra emphasized the importance of the Area Structure Plan which helps guide land development for both aviation and non-aviation related purposes. He said noted that to take advantage of this increasing interest in airport lands, it’s recommended that the Airport seek to develop the south field.
He also told council that currently, the focus is on building community engagement and awareness and a Master Plan Project which sets the stage for the next 30 years.
It also sets the stage for timely, required infrastructure enhancements such as parking, terminal and runway extensions. “It’s really important that we begin to sit down and look at the longer term infrastructure requirements for the airport.
“When we attract business and people to our region…it supports regional economic development. With the growing city and region, the importance of the airport will only increase in the future for Red Deer.
“We are poised to capture our rightful place as an economic centre that is connected to the world.”