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Airline fees under review at Campbell River Airport

The Campbell River Airport will look to hike the fees it charges airlines.

City council approved a review of passenger fees and aircraft fees on Thursday night, which make up 59 per cent of airport revenue. Concession fees, lease fees and vehicle parking fees won’t be looked at this time because they’re a smaller part of the revenue pie.

The passenger fees, paid by the airline for each passenger that gets on or off at YBL, and the aircraft fees, such as landing fees and parking fees, haven’t changed in years.

A city staff report shows the airport has been a money-loser for over a decade – subsidized $250,000 a year on average by local taxpayers.

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“Since approximately 2010, the airport has operated in a deficit position, relying on a transfer from the city’s general operating fund to subsidize its operations. This subsidy has averaged approximately $250,000 annually,” the report states.

During a council discussion, Coun. Susan Sinnott told airport manager Dennis Brodie it was “quite nice to see” the airport was “close to breaking even” last year and he may want to look a route specific fees.

The airport brought in $337,484 for passenger fees, missing the budget by $40,000. Aircraft fees were $113,075 – $39,000 more than expected. Fee revenue was $852,868 – $9,850 more than budgeted.

“…(T)he end result, we want certain routes so we’re more passengers to get recovered at least to our pre-pandemic levels and whatever types of pricing strategies you want to present, maybe some options to us for incentive pricing, would be very much welcomed,” Sinnott said.

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Brodie welcomed the idea of an “incentivized model” since the current pricing structure is based on a 40-50 year old Transport Canada plan.

Coun. Sean Smyth said it will be important to take into account the profit margins of the airlines.

“If they have say five passengers coming in and five coming out…well is that the break even number or are they losing money on that leg? And when we up our fees we change that structure. We’ve really got to work with our customers and see if it’s reasonable,” Smyth said.

Any changes would be brought to council through a bylaw amendment before March 31 in order to have them in place “before the busy summer season in June” when most of the airport revenue comes in.

According to Brodie, the draft airport budget for 2023 has a “percentage lift” in fees but there was no deeper analysis on the fees or their structure prior to the review request.

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