DEER LAKE — The Deer Lake Regional Airport is not alone in its recent success. Facilities in Gander and St. John’s are also experiencing increased passenger numbers which airport representatives say is a sign the provincial economy is doing well.
Last week Deer Lake airport reported a total of almost 106,500 passengers in the months of July and August. The facility set a record for the month of August for passenger traffic and its year-to-date total was up a reported 7.6 per cent over the same time period last year.
The good news in aviation seems equally distributed across the province, in spite of a strike by airport workers in St. John’s. That city’s airport has seen a growth in passenger numbers by approximately seven per cent since January. Although the numbers are not available for August because of the strike, airport marketing manager Marie Manning said the summer numbers were looking very good, with that increase heading right into July.
“The message here is ‘we are up,’ and that’s really good because it’s an indication of what’s happening in the city and our region,” she said. “Growth is fabulous, but it represents other challenges here as well.”
Manning said the influx of extra passengers means more space is needed.
“The number of passengers are increasing at quite a dramatic rate and we’re already operating in an airport that is too small,” she said. “So we’re in the process of increasing the size of our airport, and other facilities.”
The Gander International Airport Authority is showing similar numbers in terms of travellers. That facility has seen an increase of about five per cent from the beginning of the year until now and airport marketing manager Reg Wright said this is on the heels of some excellent growth last year.
“Most in the aviation industry saw a bit of an uptick this summer,” he said. “The economy is stronger and people have more discretionary income to spend. I think what we’re seeing, at least here in central Newfoundland, is some fairly strong insulation to what’s happening in the rest of the world.”
The Gander Airport recently concluded a $10-million runway project, and Wright said, like Deer Lake’s facility, parking overflow is an issue the airport will need to deal with in the coming months.
A Stephenville Airport official could not answer to its yearly progress, stating it was in a different class than other provincial airports.