Recent History 2004-2006
By Gary Rusak, 17 August 2005
The only remaining commercial carrier at Dawson Creek Airport is facing a drastic cutback, company officials announced Monday. In an effort to restructure its business operations, Hawkair president Rod Hayward said the regional airline would be reducing its total operating cost by 38 per cent and discontinuing service to Calgary, Grande Prairie, and Fort Nelson.
“When we took a long hard look at our network it was quite clear that we were overstretched,” Hayward said. “We are determined not to compromise service to our core markets in Northern B.C., and therefore had to make some difficult decisions with respect to new and emerging routes.”
Citing the rising cost of fuel and security as prime reasons for the business downturn, Hawkair will reduce its fleet of four Dash 8 100s, 37 seat passenger aircraft by one. The airline has also been forced to layoff a number of employees.
“We are in the process of going through the changes,” said Jocelyn Lindenbach, marketing representative for the airline on Monday. “A concrete number (of layoffs) hasn’t really been determined.”
Currently, Hawkair offers a daily morning flight to Vancouver from Dawson Creek and an afternoon flight six days a week. As well, it offers service to Fort St. John. The company had introduced flights to Calgary and Fort Nelson last fall and Grande Prairie last summer. Despite the reductions, Lindenbach said that local customers should not notice a change in service levels on the core routes.
“As far as Fort St. John and Dawson Creek are concerned you really won’t see much of a change to our service,” she said. “That is the theme to the restructuring. We are staying dedicated and really working on improving our core markets which includes Dawson Creek and Fort St. John.”
The move comes as a blow to the Dawson Creek Airport which just last month lost Central Mountain Air as a client. The company cited decreased loads as the primary reason for closing up shop. As well, NAV Canada, the company that handles navigation for the airport, is moving forward with its plan to downgrade the airport’s service and close its Dawson Creek tower.
Despite these ominous signs, Lindenbach said that local airport users should be confident that Hawkair would continue service in the future.
“I don’t think customers should be nervous,” she said. “It seems like communities want Hawkair here and in all of our markets. Our employees want us here. I don’t think anyone wants to see big carriers have a monopoly in the airline industry and have the cost of airfare skyrocket in our community.”
The Terrace-based business was founded in 1994 as a cargo airline and moved into passenger service in 2000.