Prince George will keep its air traffic control services, Nav Canada says

·2 min read
Prince George International Airport is one of the seven airports across the country where Nav Canada said Thursday it will continue to provide air traffic control services. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC - image credit)
Prince George International Airport is one of the seven airports across the country where Nav Canada said Thursday it will continue to provide air traffic control services. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC - image credit)

Prince George, B.C., is among the seven communities across the country that won't have air traffic control services cut at their airports, Nav Canada announced Thursday.

In a written statement, Nav Canada — a private not-for-profit corporation that provides air traffic control, flight information and other air navigation services — said it is "committing that there will be no site closures at air traffic control towers or flight service stations across the country."

In response to a query from CBC, a Nav Canada spokesperson said a flight service station in Castlegar in southeastern B.C., will not be closed. But the organization is still studying ways to streamline operations at the West Kootenay Regional Airport, including reducing hours of operation. (Flight service specialists provide information on air traffic, weather and runway conditions at less busy airports.)

The other airports being spared cuts are in Regina, Fort McMurray, Alta., Saint-Jean, Que., Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Whitehorse and Windsor, Ont., according to the statement.

In the fall of 2020, Nav Canada launched 29 aeronautical studies to safely streamline its operations and match operations to demand. The company said in February its review was looking at potential service reductions.

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

Todd Corrigall, chief executive officer of Prince George Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday that he welcomes Nav Canada's decision.

"This is welcome news, particularly as our airport is both an economic driver and fire safety station," Corrigall tweeted. "The location of Prince George International Airport is geographically perfect for servicing many rural and remote communities, while enhancing tourism opportunities locally."

Cariboo–Prince George MP Todd Doherty, who previously worked for the Prince George Airport Authority, said Thursday Nav Canada's decision is a "huge win" for the northern city.

"Now is not the time to cut services and it is never the time to jeopardize the safety of Canadians," he tweeted.

The Prince George Airport Authority said passenger numbers steadily increased over the past decade to nearly 500,000 in 2019, before a drop in commercial traffic in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.