Quesnel City Council is hoping to entice Central Mountain Air or another airline into once again providing passenger service by dangling a couple of carrots.
The idea was raised at Tuesday night’s Council meeting by Director of Community Services Jeff Norburn…
‘That we encourage commercial air carriers to provide flights in and out of Quesnel by waiving landing/passenger fees with some conditions for a limited period of time due to COVID-19.”
Norburn said that they would hope to tie that into a commitment from the carrier to then purchase fuel when they were in Quesnel.
Councillor Laurey-Anne Roodenburg felt that the senior governments may be able to help…
“We know that the province and the feds are struggling on how to support the airline industry right now, and I think it’s an eloquent solution and an opportunity for different levels of government to provide some sort of grant programs. There would be two intentions to that, one it would help keep local service to smaller communities, and the second one it would also help alleviate some of the financial stress on airlines.”
Roodenburg suggested sharing the idea through the North Central Local Government Association and the Union of BC Municipalities.
There was some doubt around the Council table about whether or not it will work however, and Mayor Bob Simpson noted that eventually they may have to move on…
“Whether or not scheduled flights ever return to an airport our size is a fair question, so there will be a point at which we’re going to have to cut bait, and take a look at whether we continue to spend the 45 thousand or whatever it costs us to maintain that certification.”
Simpson noted that the northern CRD Directors, who were at the meeting via a conference call, wanted the city to maintain certification, but he said the city would only do it as long as it was reasonable.
Passenger service was just part of Council’s Airport Strategic Plan that also included undertaking what’s called a Fixed Base Operation.
That would include the construction of a hangar to try and attract aviation related businesses to the airport.
Due to the cost of a hangar, Council will first hire a consultant to do a capital investment analysis on the idea to make sure that it’s worth it.
Another piece of the plan, in a bid to attract developers, is to subdivide the airport for sale or lease.