Air Canada Express passengers disembark from a flight at the Red Deer Airport on Wednesday

Air Canada Express passengers disembark from a flight at the Red Deer Airport on Wednesday

The sky’s the limit for Air Canada at Red Deer Airport

On Sept. 3, 2013, a large white tent provided shade from the hot sun as officials from three levels of government and representatives of the local business and aviation communities gathered at the Red Deer Airport to celebrate the launch of scheduled passenger service by Air Canada. Many of those people returned to the same tent on Wednesday — this time beneath cloudy skies — to mark the first anniversary of the national carrier’s arrival.

On Sept. 3, 2013, a large white tent provided shade from the hot sun as officials from three levels of government and representatives of the local business and aviation communities gathered at the Red Deer Airport to celebrate the launch of scheduled passenger service by Air Canada. Many of those people returned to the same tent on Wednesday — this time beneath cloudy skies — to mark the first anniversary of the national carrier’s arrival.

During the intervening year, Air Canada carried more than 18,000 passengers to and from the Red Deer Airport, pointed out Eamonn Horan-Lunney, the airline’s director of government affairs and community relations for Western Canada.

Many of those people were Central Albertans travelling elsewhere via connections in Calgary. But others were inbound passengers who helped to stimulate the regional economy, said Horan-Lunney.

“We’ve sold tickets from England, from Frankfurt, from all over the world for people to come here to Red Deer. We want to do more of that.”

He said later that Air Canada is focused on expanding its Red Deer service, which currently consists of three flights to and from Calgary every day.

“We’re always looking to grow. Usually the first growth is more frequency, so instead of three flights it might be four or five.”

Thereafter, he added, larger aircraft might be used. Expanding into a new market like Red Deer does present challenges, acknowledged Horan-Lunney. These include convincing prospective passengers to break from old habits.

“People are used to driving to one of the two cities an hour north or an hour south.”

Airport CEO RJ Steenstra said Air Canada is succeeding in changing those habits.

“After a year into this operation, I can tell you the market wants this service and they are using it, with thousands of passengers making Air Canada and Red Deer Airport part of their travel plans.”

Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski praised Air Canada for showing confidence in the region. She and Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood, Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and Red Deer Chamber of Commerce past-president Gayle Langford all noted the importance of air passenger service to economic growth.

Steenstra added that Central Alberta has the ingredients necessary to ensure continued demand for seats on planes at the Red Deer Airport.

“We have a growing population, a high propensity to travel, a strong and diverse economy, a well-established business community, a strategic location, pride in our region and communities, and most importantly a travelling public that wants to see more.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

Most Read