New provincial fund may help Castlegar’s airport. Photo: Betsy Kline

New provincial fund may help Castlegar’s airport. Photo: Betsy Kline

Provincial funding may help West Kootenay Regional Airport

New announcement sets aside funds for regional airports

The province has announced a $16.5-million fund to help cover operating costs for regional airports and the City of Castlegar is looking into how it might be used to support the West Kootenay Regional Airport (WKRA).

Castlegar CAO Chris Barlow said the fund is exciting news for the city.

“The City of Castlegar has continued to highlight the importance of keeping West Kootenay Regional Airport operating during the pandemic, and it is reassuring to see the province recognize that importance and the negative financial impact COVID-19 has had on the airport,” he said.

The province noted regional airports are critical for air ambulance, fire suppression and other links to remote communities.

Heather Bell, chair of the B.C. Aviation Council, said regional airports generate almost all of their revenue by user fees, and have been among the hardest hit industries due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. But they still need to meet regulations and maintain their runways, fire safety response and terminal services for medical and other essential travel.

Air Canada cancelled all flights out of the WKRA early in the pandemic and has not announced any plans as to when they may resume. The airport has been struggling financially ever since with projected losses over the year reaching $1 million.

Central Mountain Air began offering flights to Vancouver from WKRA October 1.

With files by Tom Fletcher



betsy.kline@castlegarnews.com

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