Red Deer Airport announces new carrier

Red Deer Regional Airport’s CEO, R.J. Steenstra, recently spoke at City council about all the upgrades, changes, and new additions to the facility.

From new de-icing equipment, a new operations manager, two new tenants to the airport, ongoing terminal modifications to a brand new carrier, Steenstra said the airport is doing well.

“We are happy to announce that Northwestern Air Lease Ltd. has decided to serve the Red Deer market with flights to Kelowna, B.C. starting November 18th,” said Steenstra.

The announcement comes shortly after Swanberg Air discontinued service to Red Deer on Sept. 8th due to a change in business direction and weak passenger numbers.

“We are now working with Kelowna over the next little while to make sure we’re enhancing the services.”

Steenstra said the service will begin with two days a week, Friday and Sunday and may increase based on demand.

“We want to ensure that the airport experience we’re putting forward is what the community expects.”

Councillor Dianne Wyntjes said she is hoping to see some promotions for the new flights done by both the airport and the airline.

“We are working together to promote this. You will see this in print, on radios, or me out talking about it or Northwestern representatives out,” said Steenstra.

The airport will continue to receive ACAP funding as long as the minimum passenger requirements are met, and Transportation Canada has provided the airport with a grace period to bolster their numbers after the loss of Swanberg.

“Growth will happen very quickly with Northwestern. We continue to see flights used out of Red Deer and we have very strong numbers in aircraft movements.”

Revenue is up over last year, as are expenses, but Steenstra said that was largely due to the Apron 2 repairs and rehabilitation. Net earnings remain in the positive over last year.

Steenstra also spoke highly of the work, which included repaving with new asphalt.

The project was completed on time and on budget in September.

“The outcomes of this rehabilitation include suggesting to others that we are a place that is open for business and that the airport looks after its infrastructure.”

Steenstra said the work also leads to decreased maintenance costs and a safe operating area. He said the airport is also looking to the future and they are aware of the coming changes to the requirements surrounding runway end safety zones (RESA).

“This has already been dealt with in the United States and elsewhere in the world, so we know it’s coming to Canada.”

Runways of 1,200m or longer will be required to have a 300m RESA, or means of stopping aircraft that provides an equivalent level of safety.

The justification for this change comes from the recent accidents in Canada and worldwide that have brought attention to the issue.

The financial burden of this change would be in excess of $750,000 and the expected passing of the regulation is spring of 2012.

Councillor Tara Veer said the third quarter presentation was a nice change from previous presentations by the airport.

“So often in the past when we’ve had the airport report to us there’s been something to deal with or a request for funding, so it’s really nice to hear about the successes taking place.”