Record numbers

Many planes are seen on the Thunder Bay International Airport tarmac on Wednesday morning. High passenger numbers this summer have broken a record.

Things are looking way up at the Thunder Bay International Airport after a banner summer with the volume of passengers setting a new record.

The airport has recorded a new high of 588,076 passengers as of Aug. 31 this year and that number reflects a 4.6 per cent increase of passengers since last year.

Ed Schmidtke, airport CEO, credits strong volumes from northern communities that he calls a “significant contributor” to the 2018 summer records, noting Bearskin Airlines, North Star Air and Wasaya Airways also showed strong numbers. A seventh weekday frequency from Porter Airlines, along with added capacity into Winnipeg from WestJet Encore have also contributed.

Schmidtke expects volumes to stay strong until the end of the year and says the pattern is not the same as the sporadic spikes in passenger volume from events such as the U-18 Baseball World Championship event or the arrival of Porter in 2008.

“We can’t point to one reason. . . there are multiple small increments all summing up to a really nice growth in volume,” he said.

“The most encouraging part of the numbers is that they have come from multiple compass directions,” said Schmidtke. “We have seen growth come from east over Toronto, we’ve seen passenger growth from the north and we’ve seen incremental growth in traffic from the west and this is very good for the community — it’s balanced, it’s diversified and we’re hoping it’s the precursor or harbinger of stable passenger volumes at a new high.”

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