Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Looking at the prospects of a big ole Jet airliner at Digby

The Prince Rupert Airport Authority, Economic Development office along with the Port of Prince Rupert are all on the same page when it comes to looking at potential expansion of services at the Prince Rupert Airport.

Towards that goal, the city will be seeking a grant from the Northern Development Initiative Trust to explore the possibility of bringing cargo jet service to the city's Digby Island airport.

The total cost of the study is estimated at $21,500 . The Port of Prince Rupert has already advised that it will chip in $5,000 towards that total, while the Airport Authority is offering $5,000 to the study. Other funding has been offered by ICCI (Invest Canada Community Initiative)  which is set to contribute $4,000, leaving $7,500 outstanding which it is hoped will come from the NDI.

The scope of the study is outlined on the city of Prince Rupert website, as part of the agenda item for this weeks council meeting. The application is found on page twenty of the agenda, and outlines what the city hopes to determine from feasibility study.

The application explains that the airport would like to attract shipments that include just time inventory requirements, short shelf like products and any items that would benefit from a reduced transit time .

The goal is to  increase demand and capacity at the airport as well as to diversify the transportation options for the city.  The possibility of expanding the job opportunities both in any construction phase and actual operation phase is also touted as the key part of the application.

The prospect of jet service to Prince Rupert is not an uncharted territory, at one time the city was serviced by jet passenger jet service, which was downsized to the current model of smaller connector service to Vancouver after the mergers and acquisitions of the eighties and nineties.

The Prince George airport recently underwent a major expansion,  an expansion which was assisted by funding from  Federal and provincial governments, as well as the Northern Development Trust, so the template for financial assistance for such ventures is certainly in place.

The expansion of transportation services in Prince George increased the capacity to handle cargo traffic, with part of the blue print the hope of attracting the large international shipping lines such as DHL, UPS and such who it was hoped might use Prince George as a refuelling stop on trans Pacific journeys. Though there was a fair bit of controversy regarding that expansion and the cost of it, which has yet to attract the increased usage that had been suggested.

There are a few roadblocks towards that goal however, as the Prince George airport CEO and President John Gibson outlined to the Prince George news site Opinion 250 

The Prince Rupert study, if approved by the NDI will examine a number of factors to bringing cargo service to the city's airport, though one imagines that the largest hurdle locally may be the transportation infrastructure required to bring cargo from the airport to the city side of the harbour.

Services between the city and the airport were one of the items of note mentioned by the local airport manager Rick Reed, who outlined his thoughts on the study's potential to CFTK TV News.

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