Passenger counts are down significantly this year at the Red Deer Regional Airport.
During their quarterly presentation to County council on Tuesday, Cyril Cooper, interim CEO of the airport said to date 851 passengers have used the facility. This is down from 1,013 passengers during the same time last year.
“It is a big concern for us, so we want to ensure we support our local passenger service,” said Cooper.
The Red Deer Regional Airport relies on funding from the federal government’s Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP). This funding could be lost if passenger numbers don’t increase.
Eligible airports must have year-round regularly scheduled passenger service with a minimum of 1,000 passengers each year over the most recent three consecutive years, they must meet Transport Canada airport certification requirements and they cannot be owned or operated by the Government of Canada.
“This funding is important for the airport,” said Cooper.
In the past, receiving these funds has meant the airport has been able to purchase a snow blower, plow truck and sweeper. They have also been able to replace the airside lighting and signage at the airport and make improvements to the pavement.
Cooper said airport officials are looking at ways to increase passenger counts at the airport to ensure they do not lose their federal funding.
“We’re in talks with Swanberg Air to offer some discounts and we’re looking at other ways as well,” he said.
In addition, Cooper told County council that Northwestern Air has pulled their aircraft from the airport and are no longer operating at the facility.
“This happened at the end of July,” he said. “Essentially the economy itself played a role and the company had an opportunity in Calgary where they could rent space there.”
He added Northwestern Air may not be gone from the airport for long.
“They are looking at coming back and starting some new service at the airport,” said Cooper.