The mayor of Penticton said while he’s pleased Transport Canada is investing millions in Penticton Regional Airport’s terminal, he would also like to see improvements to the navigation system.
Every winter passengers are plagued by flight cancellations and delays due to weather conditions.
“In the winter time sometimes you have to hold your breath or cross your fingers if they’re going to get cancelled or not it would be nice to see that improved,” said Penticton mayor Andrew Jakubeit.
“Hopefully in the future they look at doing something with our landing system so there’s a better chance for low level cloud and fog landings as well.”
On Monday, Transport Canada revealed that it has awarded a $6.4 million contract to Ledcor Construction to modernize the terminal building.
The project will reconfigure the main concourse, expand the arrivals hall and baggage claim area and create a new food service space.
New airline check-in counters will also be installed and the pre-board screening room, hold room and baggage storage areas will also be expanded.
The upgrades are being welcomed by airport passengers.
“It’s obviously going to help with people travelling around and get them out of here a little easier than going to Kelowna,” said air traveler Martin Longmore.
One of the concerns from passengers is that the airport often get packed at peak times.
“Much needed. They need more room because they have flights coming at the same time sometimes,” said Bill Saul.
Transport Canada said the Penticton airport has seen significant growth in air traffic over the past couple of years, which coincides with West Jet’s increased service to Calgary.
Departures and arrivals were up 18 per cent and passenger volume up 64 per cent from 2014 to 2016, according to the federal government.
Jakubeit said he hopes the upgrades will result in increased flight frequency.
“Right now with the current configurations there’s a bit of a bottle neck for two flights to leave early in the morning at close times to each other,” he said. “So having a better layout is going to help for more frequencies of flights and hopefully better connections.”
It also appears exploratory talks in regards to Transport Canada handing over airport ownership to the local government has ceased.
“It’s been more than two years since we’ve had that conversation and them investing, a couple years ago repaving the runway but also this major renovation now, I think those conversation are gone,” Jakubeit said.
Transport Canada said construction will begin this spring and will take two years to complete.
The work will be done in phases to minimize disruptions.