The West Kootenay Regional Airport (WKRA) is receiving a big funding boost thanks to the provincial government.
On March 30, the province announced they would be spending $16.5 million to support regional airport operations throughout the province.
WKRA will be getting $720,000.
“This funding is very welcome news and ensures the airport is in a stable financial position to recover from COVID-19,” says Chris Barlow, chief administrative officer. “For now, we’re continuing to operate for essential services and travel but this funding positions the regional airport for a strong recovery when travelers take to the skies again.”
Castlegar’s airport has seen drastic revenue losses since the beginning of the pandemic. During the last year, the total passenger traffic was reduced by 87 per cent compared to 2019, resulting in revenue losses of $900,000 in 2020. The city projects additional revenue losses of $1.2 million in 2021.
The city says the funding will ensure that critical maintenance activities that keep the airport within Transport Canada’s guidelines will not be affected. It also ensures that the airport will continue to run as a standalone business with no impact on taxation.
In order to qualify for the money, each airport had to submit a letter of interest confirming its role in hosting medevac services, identifying its pre and post COVID-19 revenues, and its revenue and expenditure projections for 2021.
“People who work in or rely on community airports know how difficult this past year has been,” said Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy. “We’re making sure that people across the Kootenay West riding will still have access to the services they need and jobs they and their families rely on by supporting local airports.”
A number of other West Kootenay airports also received funding: Trail Regional Airport — $180,000, Nelson Airport — $90,000, Nakusp Airport — $13,000, $Grand Forks Airport — $90,000 and Creston Valley Regional Airport — $180,000.
This funding announcement is on top of the B.C. Air Access Program grants announced in mid-March. WKRA received $375,000 from that grant, while Nelson’s Norman Stibbs Airport received $159,420 and Trail Regional Airport received $65,000.