Passengers at the Williams Lake Regional Airport will soon be charged a $5 airport improvement fee after what the Mayor calls good discussion on the matter.
Walt Cobb says representatives including Chamber of Commerce were in attendance at this week’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
“The airlines were also there and gave us some other information, which was good information,” Cobb said.
“The decision was made that the fee structure would change in May 2019 after we finalized our budget and whatnot and that the first phase would be just the $5 fee.”
The improvement fee will be on top of the already existing $15 per passenger fee which Cobb said will go towards upgrading the Airport.
“Over the years there’s been a lot of work that needed to be done that was never done simply because there wasn’t any money or enough money,” Cobb said pointing out that major improvements need to be made to the terminal as well as the road into the airport which will cost almost $1 million dollars to pave.
“This will be used to improve the airport for not only the tourists but the tenants that are there as well as the passengers.”
Cobb said that a stakeholder committee will also be struck with discussions on how they should be upgrading the airport, and said that calculations at a previous meeting pegging the originally proposed $10 improvement fee combined with the per passenger fee as more expensive than other airports nearby were incorrect.
“Even if we had gone the full $20 we still would be cheaper than the flights out of Quesnel,” Cobb said.
“What they didn’t understand is we have staff up there, we have maintenance, we have power to pay-those things they weren’t calculating and they were just thinking those passenger fees should just go towards improvements so there was no money left over.”
“There was very few of the last 20 years did we make a profit. The last couple of years yes, we did and we do have a surplus there, but that was because of the fires and the airplanes that were landing.”
Pacific Coastal Airlines, Director of Business Development and Corporate Communications Kevin Boothroyd who was critical of the original $10 proposal said they are comfortable with the outcome and understand that the airport does need to raise some extra funds to do the upgrades that they need to do.
“We believe it’s within a reasonable amount,” he said.
“We’re very pleased to note the establishment of an airport operations committee with all of the stakeholders-that’s what we were really asking for to ensure that they get our input going forward on where that money is to be used. We also think that establishing this in May of 2019 is a reasonable time frame.”
Most airports according to Boothroyd charge an airport improvement fee.