Nav Canada says it will maintain air traffic control towers in Regina, 6 other communities

·2 min read
Nav Canada said in February it was conducting a review, looking at potential service reductions. (Neil Cochrane/CBC - image credit)
Nav Canada said in February it was conducting a review, looking at potential service reductions. (Neil Cochrane/CBC - image credit)

The agency in charge of air traffic control in Canada has confirmed that it will continue to maintain service to Regina and six other communities.

Nav Canada — a private, not-for-profit company that provides air traffic control, flight information and other air navigation services in Canada — had been undertaking a number of reviews of the control towers in Regina, Fort McMurray, Alta., Prince George, B.C., Saint-Jean, Que., Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Whitehorse and Windsor, Ont.

On Thursday, Nav Canada posted a statement on its website saying it is "committing that there will be no site closures at air traffic control towers or flight service stations across the country."

"We are ecstatic," said James Bogusz, president and CEO of the Regina Airport Authority. "And I want to applaud Nav Canada for doing the right thing."

Bogusz said the Regina International Airport was recently successful in attracting businesses and Canada Post to the property. Having the tower provides them with the operational capacity to ensure that success continues, he said.

In the fall of 2020, Nav Canada launched 29 aeronautical studies to safely streamline its operations and match operations to demand.

James Bogusz is the president and CEO of the Regina Airport Authority.
James Bogusz is the president and CEO of the Regina Airport Authority.(Ethan Williams/CBC)

It said after "considerable consultation with airlines, airports, industry associations, local officials and internal stakeholders," it has chosen to limit changes.

"It's always one thing to go down a particular path when you make a decision, but it really shows strong leadership from that organization when they can consider a different view through that consultation process," Bogusz said.

Bogusz said the airport is going to be critical to the local economy's pandemic recovery. He said there was a multi-layer effort with the city, province and businesses for months to encourage Nav Canada to cancel any control tower closures, and he wants to thank them all.

The company said in February its review was looking at potential service reductions. Air traffic controllers at Regina's International Airport were given layoff notices that month. Bogusz said it would be reasonable to expect the notices would be rescinded. CBC has contacted Nav Canada for comment on the layoff notices.

Bogusz said Nav Canada wouldn't have made any decision that would have been unsafe, but there's always an enhanced level of safety by having people watch the airport and having those eyes on the ground.

The company is also suspending studies currently underway in remote or northern locations until further notice. Nav Canada said it will, however, continue looking at potentially changing hours of operation to streamline services.