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Proposed airport landing fee ruffles pilots

A proposed $10 landing fee at the Campbell River Airport for small, piston-driven aircraft is drawing criticism from local pilots.

Some island pilots have told the city they’ll think twice about touching down at YBL.

Ray Henault is president of the Courtenay Airpark Association and a plane owner. He’s been flying for roughly 55 years after learning to fly as a teenager in Manitoba.

Henault enjoys flying into Campbell River and thinks the fee would be inappropriate.

“Yes, we use the infrastructure, the runway and the taxiway and so on. But we certainly don’t use up any of the type of infrastructure that commercial operators are using or government operators like you have with the Coast Guard there in Campbell River,” Henault said in an interview with Vista Radio.

He says adding landing fees would discourage pilots in training in an industry already dealing with worker shortages.

“There is a shortage of pilots across the spectrum, if you like, of commercial aviation in particular, so putting landing fees in place for pilots, especially those that are training and coming up through the system would certainly be a detractor for young pilots,” Henault said.

He says it’s “never been my experience to pay landing fees for light aircraft” travelling to various airports on the island and coast, such as Port Alberni, Powell River, Naniamo, Victoria, Qualicum Beach and Sechelt.

The Campbell River Airport manager is proposing the fee so all users of the airport are contributing to the operations.

Locally based plane operators such as flight training schools would be eligible for a $200 annual registration with unlimited landings. It’s not clear whether the landing fee would apply to touch-and-go landings.

Pointing on guidance from the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, Airport Manager Dennis Brodie believes the fees are justified because the airport doesn’t charge concession fees for fuel. The AvGas is sold by Sealand Flight.

YBL did have landing fees before but they were discontinued in 2012.

The landing fee is part of a suite of new recommended fees such as $120 for aircraft towing, $20 for restricted area passes and $25 for a gate key.

The city estimates it will make $30,000 to $40,000 through the changes.

City council will consider whether to give first three readings to the bylaw approving the changes on Thursday night.

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