Nav Canada announces Regina air traffic control tower will not close

Nav Canada has decided to not close air traffic control towers or flight service stations across Canada, including the tower at the Regina International Airport.

The announcement was delivered in a news release late Thursday morning stating the company is committed to no site closures at seven airports that were under a service review. The affected municipalities included Regina, Fort McMurray, Alta., Prince George, B.C., Saint-Jean, Que., Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Whitehorse, Yukon and Windsor, Ont.

“Last fall, NAV CANADA launched 29 aeronautical studies in an effort to safely streamline its operations, ensuring that air navigation services align with market demand,” starts the release from Nav Canada. “After considerable consultation with airlines, airports, industry associations, local officials and internal stakeholders, NAV CANADA has elected to limit changes to services across the country.”

The organization is also suspending aeronautical studies for remote and northern locations which are already underway until further notice.

“Stakeholder engagement is at the heart of NAV CANADA’s aeronautical study process. The valuable input we have received indicates that a balanced approach is warranted as the industry navigates the ongoing pandemic. We are proactively taking these steps to maintain a consistent level of service as the aviation industry and our many partners shift their focus to recovery,” stated Nav Canada President and CEO Ray Bohn in the release.

Nav Canada explained that the aeronautical studies, which are still in progress, will consider other alternatives to safely streamline operations, including changes to hours of operation.

Regina Mayor Sandra Masters congratulated those involved in swaying the decision to not end service at Regina’s control tower.

“I’m very pleased that Nav Canada will maintain air traffic control service at Regina’s airport and that tower closures in Regina and at other communities across the country are no longer being considered,” Masters mentioned in her statement.

“Regina’s airport is vital to our city’s economic growth and prosperity. Continued operation of our traffic control tower ensures our city remains competitive as we work to attract new corporations and businesses that rely on national and international travel.”

Regina Airport Authority ‘thrilled’ by decision

James Bogusz admitted he is shocked by the news of Nav Canada’s turnaround decision.

The president and CEO of the Regina Airport Authority had an enthusiastic tone in his voice when speaking about the decision on Thursday. Bogusz was among those at the airport who worked tirelessly since November when the service review was announced to garner support against the decision in the community and across the province.

All the effort was worth it in the end as he described feelings of excitement and accomplishment when he received notification from Nav Canada just before noon. He said it was a massive effort by many in the community to change the decision.

“It’s an incredible day for our community to ensure the operational viability, operational capacity and really making sure that our airport and community are well-positioned to come out of this pandemic strong,” stated Bogusz. “A big thank you to everybody for all this hard work, but more importantly the impact from this hard work will benefit our community for years to come.”

Bogusz also commended Nav Canada for its leadership in changing a decision the community disagreed with.

He added that the Regina Airport Authority will be discussing the news in further detail with Nav Canada in the coming days.

“We’ll certainly have conversations with them to understand what their perspectives are if there are going to be what I will call operational adjustments,” he added. “But an adjustment does not cripple the ability for the airport to rebound quickly.”

Transportation minister supports announcement

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said he is “pleased” by Nav Canada’s commitment to not pursue closures to the select air traffic control towers.

“I also welcome NAV CANADA’s commitment to maintaining a continuous dialogue with their employees, stakeholders and communities as Canada’s air transport sector responds to the ongoing pandemic. Maintaining appropriate service in our local communities will allow NAV CANADA to continue to provide air navigation services required to support industry today and throughout the recovery,” he shared in a statement.

Minister Alghabra ended by saying the federal government will continue work with partners to respond to challenging times and ensure the safety of Canadians and the travelling public.

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