YXS Records Strong Year
Prince George Airport CEO John Gibson delivers the numbers – photo250news
Prince George BC – 2016 was a good year for the Prince George Airport.
At the Airport Authority’s Annual General Meeting, CEO John Gibson said 462,007 passengers passed through YXS in 2016. Yes that number is lower than passenger numbers recorded in 2015, but there were 15 thousand passengers that year connected to the Canada Winter Games. Passenger numbers have shown steady growth since 2009, and are up 3.5% significantly compared to 2014 when just under 446 thousand passengers passed through the terminal.
The first quarter of 2017 is also showing promise says Gibson “Passenger traffic is up 2%” when compared to the first quarter of last year.
But there are still challenges that remain says Gibson.
The airport continues to push the Federal Government for funding , “The Federal government gets over $300 million dollars in land rent a year, and they do have the money, they choose to spend it somewhere else. At most, they put about $38 million dollars back into the capital side of airport infrastructure and that’s just not good enough.” The YXS ten year capital plan calls for $50 to $60 million dollars in rehabilitation projects. This year alone, the Airport will be spending $6.5 million.
A bright spot for the Airport this year, was the announcement of funding from the Province for two projects . One will allow YXS to install an elevator from the long term parking lot to the departures level ( $1.5 million) the other was a half million dollar injection to complete the rehabilitation of Apron #1 where airlines park their planes.
Gibson is concerned about the Federal Government’s proposal to sell off the main airports to private companies. He says the billions gained from such sales would be used to fund infrastructure upgrades outside the aviation industry. “That’s going to cost Canadian travellers more money” says Gibson, “The Government’s going to be able to sell it off for billions of dollars, and where’s the money going to come from ( for the new owners)? It’s going to come from higher fees, higher concessions, higher everything that hits the travelling public including the fees to airlines.”
There may be some changes to the funding model for the 6 National Airport System Airports in Canada, which includes Prince George. Gibson says it’s too early to say how much money might find it’s way to YXS “We are just waiting right now to see the program definitions. Will it help us pay for a new emergency vehicle that’s about $1.4 million dollars, will it allow us to do some of the other runway rehabilitation work with some sort of support? So we are waiting for that, it’s likely a month or two months away before we see that.”
Prince George Airport Authority continues to work with the airlines to add services, such as a direct flight to Edmonton, Calgary and a second sunspot likely in Mexico.