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Funding up in the air as Northern Air pulls passenger service in Peace River

The Town of Peace River is worried about funding for its airport after regional airline Northern Air announced it is discontinuing the Peace River to Edmonton passenger service. On December 16th, the airline said it planned to pull the remaining passenger service it provides from the Peace River Airport effective January 1st, 2020.

Peace River CAO Chris Parker says, without a fulltime airline, the airport could lose its annual $1.1 million in funding from the federal government’s Airport Capital Assistance Program.

“If we can’t find another airline, that would be a major concern for us. It’s not like we have thousands of airlines out there, there’s only a few and it’s few and far between; it’s not like they’re beating down our door saying we want to be here.”

In order to continue being eligible for the ACAP funding, Parker adds they would need to have a fulltime airline running, be a certified airport and have around 1,000 passengers a year flying out of Peace River.

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He says the town had a suspicion this would happen following a change in Alberta Health Services’ air ambulance provider in 2018. CanWest Aviation was given the contract over Northern Air and the decision is currently still up for review.

“I think Northern Air, and there was a couple of other proponents, that were concerned about the process that the RFP had taken. It’s not that they weren’t awarded it; it was the process that they had followed… that has lead to a judicial review.”

Since that point, Parker says the town has been working to secure another provider just in case Northern Air left the community.

“We’ve been behind the scenes working to try and bring in other air services but walking that delicate line of supporting our local business and not trying to put them out of business. Now that this information has come forward, we’re going to step up our efforts of getting another airline in here.”

Parker says Northern Air plans to keep its headquarters in Peace River. Northern Air has not returned’s request for comment.

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