Expanding the terminal to obtain passenger service is not an immediate priority, says the CEO of Red Deer Regional Airport.
Graham Ingham stressed that getting passenger service back at the airport is not being ignored — “we are still pursuing it with vigour.”
But some complications have arisen that make it more expedient to focus on things within the airport’s control, he said.
Ingham noted there’s no end in sight yet to the world-wide groundings of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft after two separate crashes.
This aircraft was what many low-cost carriers, such as Enerjet, were planning to use, he added.
So while carriers are waiting to hear whether the 737s will eventually be re-approved, Red Deer Regional Airport needs to look at different ways to become more sustainable.
Ingham said one new direction that’s being pursued is developing some of the airport’s land for aviation-related businesses.
Partnerships have been formed with the Rice Group from Toronto and EFC Developments in Calgary.
Ingham said these companies will respectively be looking to market and develop 750,000 square metres north of the airport and 100,000 square metres south of the terminal and runways for maintenance, cargo, or airplane overhaul-type businesses.
“They will be large-scale development opportunities,” added Ingham, who wants to help create more jobs in the area, as well as bring airport operations out of the red.
A total of about $750,000 towards airport operations is received annually from Red Deer city and county.
“Right now, we are not financially sustainable through our operations, and we want that to change,” said Ingham, who noted a business plan is being developed “where we don’t have to take that money anymore.”
Some aviation-related businesses, such as Air Spray firefighting, are already based at the airport. Ingham hopes to get more new developments happening within a year or two.
If some of the revenues from new land leases can be put aside for an eventual terminal expansion, Ingham would welcome it, since informal cost estimates put this project at “few million dollars.”
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