The Thompson Airport Authority (TRAA) held their annual general meeting on Sept. 24, recapping some of the major projects completed in 2011 as well as looking to the future.
The 2011 year was one of the most productive in the Airport Authority’s history according to Thompson Airport President Curtis Ross.
Runway 06-24 was completed and re-opened last Oct. 11, an $8.6 million project and one of the largest infrastructure projects ever at the Thompson Airport. The gravel runway was also extended another 1,000 feet, taxiway echo was completed and taxiway bravo was repaired.
In total, close to $10 million was invested in the Thompson Regional Airport; a chunk of that money came most recently in July, Minister of State for Transport Steven Fletcher, Tory MP for the Winnipeg riding of Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia, announced that Thompson would receive $554,448 to make safety improvements.
“I’d really like to thank our crew, I don’t think anybody realizes the magnitude of the projects that went ahead and the impact that it could’ve had on our airport” said Ross, “anyone that flew in and out of here last year, you’d realize that full schedule service ran the whole time; to do all of those things at the same time on an airport of our size and get them completed was pretty monumental.”
Ross explained that with an airport, work is never really completed and that once one project is finished, another is usually under way. The next project on the agenda for the Thompson Regional Airport is the terminal building.
“That’s what I hear whenever I’m around town,” said Ross, “people are asking when are we building the terminal building, but like any major piece of infrastructure you need to be able to support it and that’s what the last six years of planning has been about.”
The last major hurdle to be overtaken before construction of a 20,000 plus square feet facility can be built is a water treatment system, a challenge that will be taken on this year by the TRAA.
On the air side of things, there are still a few projects to be undertaken, mostly with respect to approach lighting on the runways that helps guide planes into the airport. Ross anticipates that the lighting project will result in another two to three million dollars being injected into the airport through the Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP).
“As you can see, nothing we do at an airport is built around small dollars,” said Ross, “every time we touch something it’s in the millions of dollars.”
There may also be some competition for Calm Air in the future; a WestJet has plans to roll out a regional airline that will start in either the east or west half of Canada. The TRAA, along with 39 other airports met with WestJet in June and Thompson is targeted to be part of that regional air service, further emphasizing the importance of a new terminal building.