Yellowknife Airport considers expansion as traffic continues to grow

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Yellowknife, NWT – Yellowknife Airport is beginning work on expansion plans as the number of flights to and from the city continues to grow.

A Statistics Canada report last week showed the number of flights dealt with by Yellowknife Airport grew by 13% between 2012 and 2013, the second-largest rise among any of Canada’s 50 busiest airports. (There were 18,131 flights in 2012, and 20,502 a year later.)

Regional airport manager Lee Stroman says that growth has continued in 2014.

“We are seeing continued good growth in all sectors,” Stroman told Moose FM. “There has been a really significant increase and there are positive indicators that it will continue.”

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Most flights continue to originate from Edmonton or Calgary, though Air North’s flights to and from Whitehorse and Ottawa have contributed to that increase.

Figures from the territorial government show Yellowknife welcomed almost 325,000 air passengers between September 2013 and March 2014.

Now, Stroman says the airport must consider expanding its facilities as that growth continues.

“It is a big increase and it stretches us closer to our capacity,” he said.

“The schedules are much more full and there are challenges in maintenance operations – certainly, it reduces the amount of time we have to be on the runway for snow and ice control, and those kinds of things.

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“For sure, we are aware of it and we feel the pinch. We have to be just that much more efficient in our way of doing business.”

Terminal facilities for passengers are likely to be the first in line for an upgrade, though Stroman forecasts that is several years away.

“We recognize that the building is, at least at some periods of the day, at capacity for passengers and greeters,” he said.

“We’re beginning to develop a plan to scope out how to deal with that challenge.

“We’re not at capacity, but we’re inching a little closer to it every day.”

CJCD Moose FM News – photo via CambridgeBayWeather on Flickr.

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