Providing executive services support for West Kootenay Regional Airport

In recent years the City of Castlegar, BC recognized that the airport it owns and operates, the West Kootenay Regional Airport, did not offer the level of service and operations needed. For five years, OEI has provided operational, marketing, research, and other executive services to the City to see the airport transition to the level of service and operations regulators require and the people of the West Kootenays deserve. 

West Kootenay Regional Airport 
West Kootenay Regional Airport (WKRA) is sited on the west side of the Columbia River Valley within the City of Castlegar. It is the only airport in the West Kootenays that connects with an international terminal, and it serves a region of approximately 120,000 people, including those in the towns of Rossland, Trail, Salmo, Kaslo, Nakusp, and Castlegar. For approximately the last 20 years the airport had been managed on a part-time basis. As a result, the airport had not received the level of attention it required to respond to the changing market conditions and regulatory requirements.  

The Challenge 
For the City, the challenge was to increase its own understanding of opportunities and needs at the airport and respond to deliver appropriate services. This included working with regulators, air carriers, air navigation services, forestry, medevac, local businesses, and tenants. A recently completed master plan also identified the need to expand the apron, main taxiway, and Air Terminal Building (ATB) to meet the increased level of service demanded by the Bombardier Q400, which is larger than aircraft previously serving the site. WKRA also faces unique weather-related difficulties that reduce site reliability during winter months, and results in passengers booking at other airports during the winter.    

OEI’s Response 
Over the five-year period from 2017 to 2021, OEI provided numerous services to the City, including mentoring, market analysis, interim Airport Manager support, liaison with the regulator and NAVCANADA (including leading a PI audit response), capital planning, RFP and RFQ preparation, contract negotiations, grant applications, airport software development support, tenant relations and contract writing, air carrier presentations and discussions, and site communications. This involved OEI taking on a series of contracts and a wide variety of roles that kept the airport operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.