Prince Rupert airport confirms tour flights from Alberta, looking to add flight destination to Vegas

YPR is eying new flights in 2013.

After another year of increased passenger traffic, Prince Rupert’s airport is looking to add new flight destinations — including Calgary, Edmonton and Las Vegas.

YPR manager Rick Reed confirmed Prince Rupert’s Adventure Tours has teamed up with Alberta-based Classic Canadian Tours to make two flights into the airport this year with tourists destined for the Khutzeymateen Valley.

This will be the first time flights in and out of YPR have connected to anywhere but Vancouver.

Passengers will arrive from Calgary and Edmonton before boarding Adventure Tours’ catamaran. Both flights will arrive in July.  Reed also hinted the airport is working to get a flight to and from Las Vegas.

“We’re hoping to see fruition there as well,” Reed said.

More than 58,600 passengers went through the airport between January and December of 2012, signifying a two per cent growth over 2011. Additionally, there was a 4.48 per cent increase this January compared to January 2012.

As for airport upgrades, YPR submitted an application to Transport Canada last summer to access funds from ACAP to redo the asphalt at the facility, including the runway.

If funding is provided, the project would be underway this summer. The estimated value of the project is $10.5 million, with ACAP funding covering 95 per cent of costs.

Another project YPR will work toward is the refurbishment of the air terminal building.

“It’s 55 years old and very little has been done to it over the years,” Reed said.

He added the airport also needs to be expanded, particularly in the holding room and the baggage claiming area to accommodate upcoming construction projects, and to handle the increase in passengers the airport is expecting to see because of these projects.

“Our holding room is sometimes challenged, particularly if we have two flights at the same time,” he said.

Reed also said the terminal’s bathrooms need to be updated.

“We’re going to knock everything up a notch as this is the first point of entry for many of Prince Rupert’s visitors. We also want the community to feel proud of the facility,” he said.

At this time YPR is still searching for funding in order to carry out the renovations and expansion.

Another subject building anticipation for YPR is whether Prince Rupert will be selected as one of the communities Westjet will begin to serve. Westjet invited YPR, along with 34 other airports across the country, to pitch the facility in hopes of becoming one of the destinations Encore, Westjet’s new regional airline, will serve.

“We had a very positive interview with them, but we have to wait to see what the outcome is,” Reed said.

Westjet’s decision is expected to be made in the spring.

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