The proposed closure of the air traffic control tower at the Regina International Airport would be devasting, says the Airport CEO.
James Bogusz says for the airport to have any hope of seeing pre-pandemic flight volumes return to YQR, the tower needs to be in place.
The discussion comes after NavCanada notified YQR that due to historically low air traffic caused by the pandemic, they would review whether or not to close YQR’s tower.
Bogusz says he understands the impact COVID-19 has had on the aviation industry, but they need to look long term.
“As the capital city of Saskatchewan, and one that was certainly a growing airport in the past, and we fully anticipate being there again, it’s critical to have major pieces of infrastructure, like this airport, have active air traffic control management,” said Bogusz. “The fact is when you lose an air traffic control tower, you limit the capacity of the airport to how many things can be happening at once.”
Bogusz says limiting the capacity of the airport by closing the tower would be detrimental to the growth in the province.
“Regina is a growing city, the province of Saskatchewan, the City of Regina, they’re very aligned in the fact that we want to attract more residents to our city, our population is growing,” said Bogusz. “The last thing we want is to have a control tower close now, while we’ve got a downturn in aviation, because it will be very difficult to have a comeback.”
Bogusz says he wants to emphasize that NavCan isn’t the bad guy here, they’re only trying to make the best of a bad situation. His concern is that no one is looking past the pandemic.
“Their hand is forced, like us here in the airport, the revenues just aren’t coming in right now,” said Bogusz. “We have to look past Covid, we’re going to be out of this pandemic in the future, aviation will recover, and I don’t know about you, but I can tell you this airport is going to be a big part of that recovery, and I don’t want to lose what we had before the pandemic.”
He says he appreciates the support from the community over the closure of the tower and encourages people to continue to write the Federal Transport Minister advocating against the closure.