Part of the Greenwood Forest Products exhaust system has been labelled an “obstacle” by Transport Canada resulting in a shortening of the Penticton Regional Airport runway. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Shortened south Okanagan runway may impact flight schedules

Transport Canada has shortened the Penticton airport runway which may impact some flight schedules

An obstacle at the north approach to Penticton Regional Airport resulted in a shortening of the runway by Transport Canada, which may result in delays and cancellations of flights at night and in poor weather.

While maintaining there are no safety concerns, Transport Canada said, as per regulations, a NOTAM (notice to airmen) was posted on the Nav Canada website of a displaced threshold (shortening) of about 470 feet of the 6,000-foot runway. Nav Canada is the private corporation that owns and operates the country’s civil air navigation systems.

The obstacle is listed by the federal agency as an “exhaust system attached to a mill” (Greenwood Forest Products).

“The shortened runway has impacts to specific navigational aids that affect some flights that arrive at night and during periods of poor weather,” wrote Transport Canada’s Alexandre Desjardins, senior communications advisor, media relations in an email to the Western News about the matter. “Transport Canada regrets any inconvenience this may cause to travellers, and ask for their co-operation and patience while we resolve this situation.

“As the operator of the Penticton Airport, the safety of the travelling public and aircraft crew members is a priority for Transport Canada.”

READ MORE: Penticton airport users vent on Air Canada schedule changes

While the exhaust system has been in place for a number of years, and Transport Canada said it has been working on a “long-term solution,” the issue came up again during a recent audit resulting in the decision to shorten the runway.

“Transport Canada has taken immediate action to address this, such as temporarily displacing the runway threshold. The department continues to review several long-term options regarding the obstacle issue, while also minimizing impacts to the airport users,” wrote Desjardins.

Both Air Canada Express – Jazz and WestJet Encore officials are aware of the situation and are taking the appropriate measures regarding their flights into Penticton until the matter is dealt with.

“At this time, WestJet Encore’s winter flight schedule remains unchanged, however, our day-to-day operations could be impacted should the weather change,” wrote WestJet’s Morgan Bell, advisor, media and public relations. “With the safety of our guests and crew as our highest priority, any weather could result in delays and cancellations into and out of Penticton.”

They currently have two flights a day between Calgary and Penticton until Oct. 14 when it goes down to one except on Mondays (two) until Oct. 20 when it will be once a day until April 25.

READ MORE: Airport upgrade delays undermining Penticton marketing efforts

Teri Udle, responded on behalf of Air Canada Jazz writing: “As a result of the NOTAM, there is potential for impact to Jazz’s Air Canada Express operation at YYF (Penticton). Safety is our top priority and we only operate where and when it is safe to do so.”

Jazz flights vary throughout the week, ranging between two and four trips daily including either one or two flights after dark, according to its schedule.

Transport Canada has indicated it will continue to review several long-term options regarding the obstacle issue while at the same time minimizing the impacts to airport user.

Meanwhile, Greenwood CEO Wade Walker declined to say whether or not the company is working with Transport Canada about the issue or comment on anything else in relation to the matter.


 

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A WestJet Bombardier Q400 NextGen Aircraft approaching Penticton Regional Airport. The Greenwood Forest Products exhaust system is being blamed for a shortening of the runway by Transport Canada and may result in cancellations and delays of flights at night or in poor weather. (Mark Brett - Western News)

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