Booming golf business prompts Ottawa company's interest in Cape Breton airport

Signs are good that the small airport in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., could soon see its growth take off, according to a local councillor.

Inverness County District 6 Coun. John Dowling, who is also a member of the airport committee, told CBC an Ottawa-based aviation management company has approached the town with an offer to co-manage the facility and take over marketing the airport.

"It looks promising," he said. He declined to name the firm since negotiations are ongoing.

Golfers from around the world

Dowling said the airport first caught the company's attention when golfers from around the world began flying in to play the renowned Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses in Inverness.  

"They do have connections to the island. So they see what's coming through. They've seen what's happening with Cabot," he said. 

But in the process the firm discovered several other major businesses around Port Hawkesbury, in what's known as the Strait area, could also take advantage of the facility.

"The potential's been there, and they've seen it and realized that, yeah, it's time to build on it," said Dowling, whose district includes the airport.

He said if negotiations are successful the company plans to build an airport terminal and five jobs will be created, all without any government funding.

Can land a 737

In the past year, more than 800 flights have come in to Port Hawkesbury, he said, noting the runway is used a lot by the military and the Canadian Coast Guard. It also often handles private jets and has the capability to land a 737.

Dowling said he will petition for some financial support from Inverness County, which cut its $35,000 grant recently because the airport no longer runs a deficit.

Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie said council no longer feels obliged to support the airport like it once did. But she said if council was approached with a formal proposal that sees it help with basic operating costs, it "likely would be supported."