Recent History 2004-2006
By Gary Rusak, 27 July 2005
Central Mountain Air will be discontinuing its Dawson Creek service effective next Tuesday, Aug. 2, the company announced on Tuesday.
“We are taking the routing out of the system,” said Doug McCrea, president of the Smithers-based airline. “Market conditions have forced us to make the difficult decision to no longer provide air service to the community of Dawson Creek.”
CMA has been operating out of the city’s airport since Sept. 4, 2002, offering one flight a day, six days a week to Prince George. The company owns 14 aircraft, each seating 19 passengers, and employs approximately 300 people.
“We have worked hard to stimulate air travel between Prince George, Calgary, Kelowna and Kamloops,” said McCrae. “Unfortunately we have not been able to generate the passenger loads needed for the long term viability of providing air services to Dawson Creek.”
McCrae added that the company was forced to lay off one of its two local employees; the other will be transferred to another location. Airport manager Ian Darling said he was surprised by the sudden announcement.
“It means a lot,” he said on Tuesday. “We aren’t going to have any service out of Prince George now. It comes as a total shock because they have had good loads. There has to be something else going on that I don’t understand.”
Darling said that the closing would have financial repercussions for the airport.
“They pay landing fees so it is going to hurt us revenue-wise but that is not an issue,” he said. “The issue is servicing the community. I’m concerned that 12 to 17 people a day are now going to have to drive to Fort St. John to get to Prince George.”
The airport is now in the position of finding another tenant to fill the space. “I’m going to have to actively look for another airline to come in and service that route,” he said. “I want to be able to service our needs here.”
To persuade the company to review its decision, Darling is encouraging local customers to call CMA.
“I think if there is a big enough outcry then they might reconsider,” he said. “People should be concerned that service is eroding here for no apparent reason that I can see.”
McCrae said that it is his hope that the company will come back to the city when the market allows.
“We are always watching to see what is going on,” he said “Certainly we keep an eye on all the routings.”