Red Deer Airport looks to buy new administration building

Airport has asked to borrow $240,000 from Red Deer County for office purchase

Red Deer Airport has turned to the county to help bankroll the purchase of a new administration building as part of an ongoing effort to boost regional aviation.

Red Deer County council is considering a request to loan the airport $240,000 to buy a building just east of the airport terminal.

Airport administration needs new space because Tucana Aviation will be taking over the terminal building as part of a deal to operate the airport.

Tucana, which is already selling fuel, will soon offer maintenance, catering, transportation and accommodation services in a partnership to become a fixed-base operator beginning next month.

Construction on a $115,000 facelift for the terminal, including a private waiting area for pilots, is underway.

Fixed-base operators oversee airports in Grande Prairie, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. Through its five-year deal with Tucana, Red Deer Airport hopes to lure more charter flights and continue to build on the economic development potential of the airport at Springbrook.

County council gave first reading on Tuesday to a bylaw to loan the airport $240,000 over 10 years at an interest rate of 2.4 per cent.

Under the terms of the deal, the airport authority will repay the loan in twice-yearly $13,500 instalments. It will come back to council’s Jan. 14 meeting for final approval.

Heather Surkan, county director of corporate service, said the loan is well within the means of the authority, which is receiving $5,500 a month lease payments from Tucana and has other leasing opportunities.

“They should easily be able to make payments to us,” she said.

Coun. Philip Massier said the loan, which is based on what the Alberta Capital Finance Authority would charge to loan money to the county, is a good move.

“I think it’s a great deal. It’s way better than just giving them money to do something,” said Massier.

Mayor Jim Wood said the deal with Tucana is a positive sign.

“It’s nice to see that we have people coming to the airport that want to develop there.”

The airport was recently given approval to become a controlled airport, with a control tower staffed by Nav Canada. As an uncontrolled airport, Red Deer has had a flight services station that could offer advisory services. The changeover will take almost two years.

Red Deer Airport is the fourth busiest in Alberta with about 80,000 takeoffs and landings every year.

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