Airport eyes expansion projects

Red Deer Regional Airport is hoping to see some expansion projects get off the ground next year.

Red Deer Regional Airport is hoping to see some expansion projects get off the ground next year.

Cloud 9, an aircraft maintenance company based at the airport, has expressed interest in building a new hangar at the airport located at Springbrook.

Also, Air Spray Aviation Services is looking to expand their operations, said Red Deer Regional Airport Authority chairman Bernie Papp, in a quarterly update for Red Deer County Council on Tuesday.

The airport is also planning to discuss making repairs to a crumbling runway apron used by the company, which specializes in air tanker forest fire suppression.

Papp said the airport has seen some positive signs of recovery this year.

Scheduled passenger counts topped the 1,000 mark late last month, an important benchmark that allows the airport to apply for federal funding under the Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP).

To the end of November, passenger counts sat at 1,031, up from last year’s 1,013, but far short of the 1,437 passengers from 2008.

Papp said the airport plans to apply for ACAP funding, but no details are available yet.

The program has provided significant help in the past. In 2008, the airport received $2.1 million, which was used to improve airfield lighting and signage. About $850,000 was lined up a year later for snow removal equipment.

Aircraft movement numbers also showed improvement over last year. Papp expected movements would hit 39,000 by the end of the year, up from 37,446 in 2009. There were almost 50,000 movements in 2008 before the economic downturn was firmly established.

The improved numbers are a positive sign.

“It continues to demonstrate that we need to continue to focus on building our passenger trips,” he said.