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October 27, 2017 10:24 pm

Small Airports Continue to Press for Dollars

Thursday, June 16, 2016 @ 5:58 AM

Prince George, B.C. –  The Prince George Airport continues to  work towards securing  infrastructure funding from the Federal Government.

The problem is,   YXS is classed as a National Airport System airport because it sits on land leased from  the Federal Government. As an NAS airport,  YXS is one of 6 such airports in the country which don’t qualify for those dollars.

YXS President and CEO John Gibson says progress on  trying to land  those dollars  is slow ” I thought we (NAS) had made some inroads, the Liberals had promised we would have funding,  there is no money in the (federal) budget,  so we are clinging to the hope it will be in the next  budget for next year.  So we are starting to make plans to  get that funding.    We’re   in every Ottawa office,  sub infrastructure, finance, treasury board, pushing it.  We’re also  looking for increased funding for all small airports and Mr. Emerson in his report recommend that both those( funding options) happen for the small NAS as  well as the rest  of the airports,  so we just  keep on   pushing.”

Former Cabinet Minister David Emerson released his review on Canada’s Air transport industry last month,  but  the Federal Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau  is taking  the  summer to  go over the  report before announcing  any decisions.

The Prince George Airport’s 10 year capital plan  has a price tag of  between $50 and $60 million dollars, and that’s for upgrading and maintaining existing  infrastructure.

Recently, the BC Chamber of Commerce supported  a resolution  from the Prince George Chamber, calling on the Federal Government to make those infrastructure funds available to  the 6 small  airports which don’t currently qualify.  That resolution is  helpful says Gibson “Because it’s broad,   even just the 6 (NAS) airports ourselves, can’t muster enough political push to get it done, so we’re packaging it all together  with  up to 150 airports  that are impacted by  what’s going forward for increased funding.”  Gibson  says while the Federal Government takes  about $300 million dollars out of the airport system in rent alone, it only puts $38 million back into small airport financing.

Gibson says bumping up the annual  funding for  small airports to $75 million a year may sound like a lot of  money, but  in the scope of  airports across the country it’s a small figure “That’s 75 miles of road, and here you are,  impacting all these airports all over the country , so we don’t  think in a National  budgeting standpoint it’s a big number.”


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