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Province invests nearly $50,000 in Edson Airport

The province plans to spend $49,500 to update the Edson Airport's runway and taxiway. File photo.

The province plans to spend $49,500 to update the Edson Airport’s runway and taxiway. File photo.

The Edson Airport might be getting an overhaul, but don’t expect commercial flights to land anytime soon.

Last week the province announced the Town of Edson would be given $49,500 to help replace the runway and taxiway at the Edson Airport.

Doug Goss, chair of the board of directors for Tourism Jasper, welcomed the investment, but said it will take a lot more money to make it a commercial airport.

“It’s good, but the Edson Airport is going to require significantly more investment to get it to the point where we can start scheduled air traffic,” said Goss.

“The issue for Edson is we need to be able to have CATSA security (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority) installed for scheduled flights to land and that means the whole terminal needs to be upgraded.”

To do that he estimated it would likely cost between $5-6 million.

Mayor Richard Ireland also welcomed the news.

“The more they can invest in the airport now to keep it at workable level the better because when the time comes, assuming that the industry rebounds, you want to be able to hit the ground running so to speak,” Ireland said, referring to the oil and gas industry.

If the airport ever becomes commercially viable he said he expects about 20 per cent of passengers will be headed to Jasper.

“It was never the expectation that the tourism market would be the driver of scheduled service into Edson. It’s going to be something that’s led by industry.”

The prospect of landing commercial flights at the Edson Airport appeared ready for take off after the federal government announced the airport would receive access to screening services CATSA in July 2015.

Less than a year later Albertan airline company Integra Air announced that it would begin operating flights in and out of Edson four days a week, but a week before flights were supposed to start in June 2016 it abandoned its plans.

Since then the airport has struggled to attract any new interest.

“Back a few years ago when Alberta’s economy was robust we had some very positive conversations with Air Canada and West Jet, but unfortunately since that time things have moved the other way and both airlines have decreased their scheduled air service to Alberta,” said Goss.

While the timing might not be right Goss said he remained optimistic about the future of the airport.

“We haven’t dropped it, eventually this will happen,” said Goss. “This destination is too important to Alberta for us not to get scheduled air traffic in so it’s a matter of when not if.”

Paul Clarke

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