Hawkair’s decision to halt its service to Smithers will cost the town about $67,000 in lost landing and terminal fees, according to airport manager Rob Blackburn.
The airport has been in a good financial position as the town, in its five-year financial plan, has budgeted for the surplus to be more than $300,000. Unless other revenue sources can be found, the Hawkair decision could result in the airport’s books moving into the red. Blackburn told council Tuesday that he has already talked with Air Canada and Central Mountain Air, encouraging them to perhaps add flights. He said he does not expect the volume of passengers to drop at all.
In the first six months of the year, 30,809 passengers moved through the Smithers airport. That is almost exactly the same as last year when 30,809 passengers went through the airport.
“This is not a doom-and-gloom situation,” Blackburn told council. “The market is still quite strong.”
Hawkair has stated it was not getting enough passengers to warrant continuing the service. With passenger numbers steady, compared to last year, it appears it was losing passengers to the other carriers.
Hawkair’s passengers contributed $105,645 towards the airport improvement fund in 2014 and Blackburn does not expect that revenue to be lost as travellers will still be using the airport.
Blackburn said it isn’t a case of just going out and finding another carrier to locate in Smithers, as it is a market driven economy.
“What we can do is we can continue to make Smithers a destination,” he said.
Blackburn, in his report to council, reassured council that the airport still needs a terminal expansion.