EDMONTON – The day has finally arrived; most tenants at the historic City Centre Airport have vacated the site to make room for a new residential community.
While some companies have been given a bit of extra time to move out, Friday was the deadline for all tenants to leave, as the last runway at Blatchford Field will close at the end of the month.
“This is the last day,” said Regina Heck, who has worked at McEwen’s Esso Avitat for 14 years. “It’s sad.”
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Offices and desks were emptied as staff members spent Friday sharing a meal and saying so long to their co-workers at the small, family-run business.
“They’ve done everything they could,” Heck said. “We’re like family. They’re very good with their employees. And so they tried to make it as easy of a transition as possible, knowing that they have to lay us off and they don’t want to.”
The company – a fixed-base operator that provides aeronautical services such as fuelling and aircraft maintenance – was forced to lay off 20 staff members and shut its doors for good due to the closure of the more than 80-year-old airport.
“The company had approached the different airports that are around the city- the International, Villeneuve- and they just didn’t need another FBO at their facility,” Heck explained. “So that didn’t leave us much room to go anywhere. So they pretty much had no choice but to close the doors.”
Across the street, the situation isn’t quite as dire. Although one business says the times aren’t great, either.
“You’ve got your guys who are going ‘where the heck am I going to move to?’ and then you have the other guys who have nothing but bitter complaints,” said Andrew Munn with Goulet Aircraft Supply Ltd.
The company is not on airport land and therefore doesn’t have to move, but Munn says it relied heavily on the business the airport brought it.
“A lot of our walk-in traffic is non-existent and a good chunk of our customers have closed up shop… others have relocated,” Munn explained. “Ghost town, I believe, is the appropriate phrase nowadays.”
Munn says the business is staying put for now, but will likely re-evaluate its options when its lease expires in a couple of years.
As for Heck, she says she’ll take a few months off and will begin the job hunt in the New Year. And while she knew this day was coming, “it just came too fast.”
The City Centre Airport will officially close on Nov. 30. After that, deconstruction of the current infrastructure will begin, to make room for the Blatchford Redevelopment.
With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.