Industry keeping Dawson Creek airport busy — and it’s only getting busier

In the month of January, the Dawson Creek Regional Airport saw more than 800 charter passengers — a large increase in numbers.

“On a normal basis, we’ll probably get around 300 passengers a month. It’s jumped quite a bit,” says Patrick Sihota, Airport General Manager. “That is oil and gas.”

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Crediting the LNG Canada decision in October 2018 and work beginning on Coastal GasLink, Sihota notes many of the projects driving growth aren’t even in peak construction.

“TransCanada, they will be flying in and out of here in charters quite a bit in the next coming months. ARC Resources, they’ll be in once a week on a charter plane. We have Encana every day, we’ve got Pentastar coming in at least three or four times a week,” says Sihota.

“We’re essentially doubling our numbers with our charters.”

While the influx of charter flights is good for the airport, this use of the airport by industry could also see benefits for people in Dawson Creek.

Sihota notes the airport is in negotiations with an airline to bring in a direct route to Calgary on a scheduled flight that the general public could use, that would benefit industry utilizing many of the charters.

“Calgary is the hub of oil and gas. Dawson Creek is becoming like a secondary hub of oil and gas in the north,” Sihota said.

“We’re trying to establish that link, so these companies are incentivized to not fly in through charters and to use that scheduled service.

“We saw with Integra last year that prices weren’t very ideal for people or a lot of the companies. The airline that we’re working with has already consulted with the companies that are going to be flying in and out of here.

“What a lot of these companies are doing is striking deals with airlines because they can buy tickets in bulk, and that not only helps out the company that’s buying the tickets, but it also helps out the airline to guarantee a certain load on the plane. Now their risk is lessened to implement a new route.”

With the influx of people and projects, the airport has also noticed an increase in cargo and in medevacs.

“Our proximity to Chetwynd, Tumbler and everything, Fort St. John, Grande Prairie, we’re actually dead in the centre, so if crews wanted to fly their people into Dawson and get their staff to the camps they need to get them too, it makes the most sense to come into Dawson,” he says.

“In one month we’ve seen an influx already, I’m just trying to think when everything is in peak operations, we will see an influx. We’re just gearing up for it.”

Email Austin Cozicar at reporter@dcdn.ca.

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