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Deer Lake airport doesn’t know what to expect from Fort Mac fire


To say the Fort McMurray fire is having an impact on passenger traffic at the Deer Lake Regional Airport would only be anecdotal at this point, says Jamie Schwartz.

STAR FILE PHOTO

A jet takes off from the runway of Deer Lake Regional Airport in this undated photo.

The president and CEO of the airport said while people are talking about friends and family displaced by the fire coming home to this area, whether that will reflect in passenger numbers won’t be known until the May statistics are analyzed.

“There’s some people saying that this is a positive, that you might see more activity in terms of rebuilding the community and there are others saying this might take some time, so it might be a slight downturn in the market,” said Schwartz. “We don’t know what to expect.”

Despite the airport authority reporting a decrease in passenger traffic during the last quarter of 2015 due to the downturn in the oil industry out west, Schwartz said things have been “status quo” at the airport in 2016.

“Our traffic is on par with last year at this time and we haven’t seen any changes in the schedules,” said Schwartz, adding there have been no big increases that would warrant the airlines to put on extra flights.

Going back to January, the airport saw a decrease in passengers, but in February the numbers rose again.

In March, 27,876 passengers went through the airport, up over the 25,737 in March 2015. Passenger numbers in April, however, dropped by 1,617, from 28,861 in 2015 to 27,244 this year.

Schwartz said the anomaly in the numbers comes from the fact that all of Easter, which drives a lot traffic, was in April last year, and this year it was split over March and April.

“So really, the traffic hasn’t changed much at all.”

Overall, the airport has seen 123 more passengers in the first four months of 2016 than it did during the same time in 2015.

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