Prince George Airport is a small international airport that serves the City of Prince George in the Northern Interior region of British Columbia in Canada. The airport is situated inside the southern area of the City of Prince George and is operated by the Prince George Airport Authority.
The airport is regarded as an official port of entry into Canada and has a permanent staff of border-control officers from the Canadian Border Services Agency (the airport receives flights from US territories and also Mexico). The airport has three runways 01/19 at 3,770ft, 06/24 at 5,624ft and the main runway 15/33 at 7,402ft.
EARLIER AIRPORT EXPANSION
In the period from 2003 to 2005 the airport had an expansion programme to update its equipment and develop more capacity. The programme involved installation of additional check-in counters, larger pre-board screening and security holding areas.
This first phase started in November 2004 and cost $4.6m. The second phase started in mid 2005 and involved new baggage carousels and a new customs checkpoint for international flights (cost an estimated $6.6m).
In December 2006 the airport parking area and airport roadway system commenced an expansion / rehabilitation and realignment project worth $3.1m. The work was carried out by Western Industrial Contractors (WIC) Ltd of Prince George over two phases, which continued until the summer of 2006 and then was finally completed over a four-month period up until spring 2007.
NEW PRINCE GEORGE EXPANSION PROJECT
This expansion project (the third phase of the overall airport development) includes the lengthening of the runway (15/33) from 7,402ft to 11,400ft (adding shoulders and strengthening), purchase of a snow-clearing vehicle, improvements to the airport’s lighting and navigational aids system, and re-construction of taxiway D and the surrounding apron area. The costs for the project are estimated at $34.7m.
The longer runway will give the airport the added opportunity to service and refuel cargo flights to and from Japan, China and the eastern seaboard of the United States. The longer runway is also intended to attract charter flights from Europe to Prince George to expand tourism in central and northern British Columbia. Recent studies have shown that with an extended runway, Prince George Airport could attract 1,560 cargo flights a year or about four a day.
In September 2007 the Canadian Government agreed an $11m federal investment contribution for the airport expansion. The Province of British Columbia has also agreed to make a contribution of $11m. As well as the generous federal and provincial contributions, the Northern Development Initiative Trust (established in October 2004) is providing a repayable loan of $12m to the project.
Some of the remaining funding for the expansion project is being provided by the Western Economic Diversification Canada through the federal Mountain Pine Beetle programme.
Jay Hill MP commented: “Expanding the Prince George Airport is part of a comprehensive response to the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation. This airport expansion is important for our region’s economic future and will be critical to ensuring long-term, sustainable economic growth.”
British Columbia is in the midst of the worst Mountain Pine Beetle infestation ever recorded in Canada. There are indications that by 2008 50% of the mature pine trees in British Columbia will be dead and that by 2013 if the infestation is unchecked 80% of the trees will die. The Prince George Airport Authority is also expecting a further $60m in private investment after completion of the runway expansion project.
In October 2007 construction began on the first phase of the Prince George airport runway extension at the south end of runway. Work will continue towards the north of the runway until spring 2008. The work is being undertaken by the IDL / Sharp Joint Venture who were awarded the $7m first phase of the runway project in late 2007.
This first phase involves drainage and site preparation for the next phase of the project. The runway will be extended to 11,400ft and for the overall runway additional facilities will be installed such as centre line lighting, dual ILS navigational systems and a dedicated de-icing refuelling pad for wide body cargo aircraft. The project is expected to be fully completed by autumn 2009.