Red Deer became part of Air Canada’s flight network on September 3, 2013, in a move to make air travel more convenient for Red Deer and area passengers.
The partnership will see three inbound and outbound flights daily between Red Deer and Calgary offered by Air Canada, as well as connections being enabled to Washington DC, Zurich, Tokyo, and other international destinations. These flights are in addition to those already offered by Northwestern Air.
RJ Steenstra, CEO of the Red Deer Airport Authority, says that Red Deer Airport was always a vibrant commercial airport, but was previously experiencing some challenges on the scheduled service side of air travel. “We started discussions with Air Canada in February [of 2013],” Steenstra says, “We thought [the Central Alberta region] was an interesting market, with high propensity to travel, high household discretionary incomes, a large market that at this point hasn’t been fully served with scheduled service.”
Steenstra says that airports are ‘economic enablers’, with ease of travel influential in attracting business from a variety of industries including labour workers, researchers, and conference attendees.
“Airports contribute to economies in a significant way, connecting business to other offices around the world, in North America or in the province,” he says, “it’s a booster for your region. Sixteen commercial business operate out of the airport, 225 people currently work at the airport, it’s a significant infrastructure for central Alberta.”
Angela Mah, Corporate Communications at Air Canada, says that access to the Central Alberta region was instrumental in the decision to bring Air Canada to Red Deer.
“Red Deer and by extension, Central Alberta becomes part of Air Canada’s more than 175 destinations on five continents,” Mah says, “we also expect this to be of interest to business travellers travelling to the central Alberta area.”
Steenstra says Red Deer has one of the few airports in Canada that is steadily growing. “One thing people don’t know is that among [Red Deer’s] regional airport peers, this airport is the second busiest airport in Canada,” says Steestra, noting that peer airports include North Bay and Sudbury Ontario, Gateneau Quebec and Medicine Hat Alberta.
“In 2009 [Red Deer Airport] was ninth in the country; it is now second busiest,” he says, “Todd Hearse, the Senior Economist at the Alberta Treasury Branch, [spearheaded] a study of the fastest growing regional airports in Alberta. While others are declining, Red Deer Airport has experienced a 25 per-cent increase in growth since 1999.”
The airport meets the Transport Canada guidelines as Edmonton and Calgary airports and includes full security screening procedure by the Canadian Air Transport Security Association (CATSA).