Prince George will keep its air traffic control services, Nav Canada says

Apr 15, 2021

Photo: Prince George Airport Authority

Air navigation company has not said whether services at Castlegar will still be cut

Prince George, B.C., is among the seven communities across the country that won’t have air traffic control services cut at their airports, Nav Canada announced Thursday. In a written statement, Nav Canada — a private not-for-profit company that provides air traffic control, flight information and other air navigation services — said it is “committing that there will be no site closures at air traffic control towers or flight service stations across the country.”

However, the statement doesn’t mention Castlegar in southeastern B.C., where Nav Canada has considered slashing air traffic control services at West Kootenay Regional Airport, which could result in layoffs and the closure of a flight service station.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Nav Canada’s spokesperson says its study on Castlegar is still continuing and there won’t be site closure in the West Kootenay Regional Airport. The other airports being spared cuts are in Regina, Fort McMurray, Alta., Saint-Jean, Que., Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Whitehorse and Windsor, Ont., according to the statement.

In the fall of 2020, Nav Canada launched 29 aeronautical studies to safely streamline its operations and match operations to demand. The company said in February its review was looking at potential service reductions. It said after “considerable consultation with airlines, airports, industry associations, local officials and internal stakeholders,” it has chosen to limit changes.

Photo: Prince George Airport Authority

Todd Corrigall, chief executive officer of Prince George Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday that he welcomes Nav Canada’s decision.

“This is [a] welcome[d] news, particularly as our airport is both an economic driver and fire safety station,” Corrigall tweeted. “The location of Prince George International Airport is geographically perfect for servicing many rural and remote communities, while enhancing tourism opportunities locally.”

Cariboo–Prince George MP Todd Doherty, who previously worked for the Prince George Airport Authority, said Thursday Nav Canada’s decision is a “huge win” for the northern city. “Now is not the time to cut services and it is never the time to jeopardize the safety of Canadians,” he tweeted.

The Prince George Airport Authority said passenger numbers steadily increased over the past decade to nearly 500,000 in 2019, before a drop in commercial traffic in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(News Source: CBC BC News)