The Prince Rupert Airport not only expects to be able to repay the $7 million loan five years ahead of schedule, but to have a significant amount of money in the bank at that time to look at possible future expansion.
Prince Rupert airport manager Rick Reed said that of the additional $14 user fee, $10 will be used to pay back the loan while $4 will go directly to the City of Prince Rupert to help offset the cost of the Digby Island ferry. Under that system and with a modest projection of a three per cent increase in ridership, Reed expects the loan could be repaid by 2029, in 15 years instead of the 20 year loan amortization period.
At the same time, based on current projections, the airport would be well in the black.
“By 2029 we will have, in the bank, $2.2 million … this is going to build to the future so that when we have to expand, rebuild, replace or repair, we have the money there,” he said.
“We will have a new airport, and not just an airport but a terminal building the community can be proud of … it’s going to be designed so that it will be easy to add on to when the time comes.”
The loan, which will be used to completely renovate the terminal building while repairing the runway and access road, received voter approval through the alternate approval process earlier this year and will now go to the Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District for support before being sent down to the Municipal Finance Authority for final approval. Reed said he is optimistic the airport will receive the money in the new year.
“From what I understand we have a lot of support for this proposal. We have managed to demonstrate that we will repay it through this through our own cash flow without having to go to the taxpayers. It will be paid for strictly through user fees,” he said, noting the $28 user fee would still be below other large airports.
“When you look at large airports, they can make money from parking, shopping, food services and more. The only source of revenue we have is our passengers … Edmonton’s user fee is going up to $35, Vancouver’s is around $30 and I believe Toronto and Ottawa are around $30.”