By Bill Phillips
Hawkair will halt its daily service out of Smithers August 1.
Company president Jay Dilley says there just aren’t enough passengers flying out of Smithers to Vancouver every day to warrant keeping the flights going.
He said there are a number of factors impacting the passenger numbers.
“It’s not a problem unique one area,” he said, adding passenger traffic at Vancouver International Airport is down 10 per cent.
Dilley said with the oil and gas and mining sectors slowing, air traffic through the Smithers airport has been impacted.
Another factor has been WestJet drawing people to Northwest Airport in Terrace.
Hawkair will also continue to offer daily flights out of Terrace.
“We are inviting all of Smithers to continue to enjoy our service out of Terrace,” Dilley said, adding Hawkair will continue to be involved in, and support, Smithers.
He added Hawkair will continue to keep an eye on the Smithers market with an eye to possibly returning.
Hawkair does have pilots, flight attendants, and customer service agents based in Smithers. Dilley said the pilots will be offered positions, but will have to relocate. However, the flight attendants and customer service agents will be laid off.
Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach said he and council are disappointed with the decision.
“Hawkair has been a valuable contributor to our community through its quality service and generous support for our local events, teams and initiatives,” Bachrach said in a press release. “As Hawkair has in the past restarted its Smithers service after suspending it, we remain open to any opportunities to welcome Hawkair as our business partner again in the future.”
Bachrach said the Smithers airport manager will be briefing council on how the Hawkair decision will impact airport revenues.
Bachrach said the Town of Smithers is committed to working with Air Canada and the other companies that operate out of the Smithers Regional Airport to “ensure our facility is as efficient, convenient and competitive as possible and to realize the unique development potential our airport offers. We remain confident in the outlook for Smithers and the Bulkley Valley and committed to the long-term development plan for our town. Our stable, diverse economy continues to attract investment and we are a location of choice for new residents.”