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2016 wasn’t as bad as Deer Lake Regional Airport Authority had forecasted

Walter Dominie, chair of the Deer Lake Regional Airport Authority board, is seen prior to the start of the organization’s annual general meeting at the Holiday Inn Express in Deer Lake Tuesday night.
Walter Dominie, chair of the Deer Lake Regional Airport Authority board, is seen prior to the start of the organization’s annual general meeting at the Holiday Inn Express in Deer Lake Tuesday night.

The numbers may have been different, but the overall message was pretty much the same when the Deer Lake Regional Airport Authority Inc. held its annual general meeting at the Holiday Inn Express on Tuesday night.

Going into 2016 the board had expressed concerns that the Deer Lake Regional Airport would see a decrease in traffic because of the downturn in the Alberta oil industry. With less workers commuting and an airline dropping service the board was prepared to take steps, if needed, to offset the loss.

According to the reports board chair Walter Dominie and airport president and CEO Jamie Schwartz presented to the nine people who attended the meeting, that drop in overall traffic didn’t occur.

In fact, the airport saw more passengers in 2016, 366,050 in total, a record five-year high.

Schwartz attributes the increase in part to commuting Muskrat Falls workers.

But the concern is still there for a drop in passengers in 2017 once Muskrat Falls begins to wind down construction. Schwartz’s prediction is that some other project, mining in Labrador or an improvement in the oil sector, will once again offset any decrease.

Summer, with July and August being the top two months, brought in the most travellers with the airport hitting 50,000 passengers in August alone. Schwartz said the U.S. dollar might have played a role in keeping people in Canada last year.

It may sound like a bad thing, but Schwartz said he’s not sure the airport can get much busier. The problem is not with the airport, but with the lack of accommodations and rental cars in the region. There’s just not enough, he said, and that could limit growth at the airport.

Financially the increase in travellers is helping the airport’s bottom line and this year’s operating surplus came in at $567,674.

Right now the airport doesn’t have any big capital expenditures to deal with, as it was noted it would be at least another three years before it has to undertake recapping of the runway.

Comparing the numbers

Passenger traffic

2016 — 366,050

2015 — 341,072

Revenue

2016 — $4,663,875

2015 — $4,504,043

Expenditures

2016 — $4,096,201

2015 — $4,143,275

Operating surplus

2016 — $567,674

2015 — $360,768

Deer Lake Regional Airport president and CEO Jamie Schwartz presents his report during the airport authority’s annual general meeting at the Holiday Inn Express in Deer Lake Tuesday night. At right is board member Sheldon Peddle.

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