NAV Canada considers air traffic control cuts in Regina
Regina airport CEO argues for 'eyes in the tower' as NAV Canada considers cuts
Regina International Airport is coming under review as NAV Canada, Canada's air navigation service provider, considers cost-cutting measures at airports across the country.
Regina is one of seven airports where air traffic controller jobs might be eliminated.
According to James Bogusz, the CEO of the Regina Airport Authority, NAV Canada looks for a threshold of approximately 60,000 aircraft movements per year to justify having an aircraft control tower. Last year, Regina's airport came close, with 56,000 airport movements.
Bogusz said he is concerned about how NAV Canada's decision might impact the community.
"I simply cannot [let] our airport, and by extension our community and our whole region — which is all of southern Saskatchewan — diminish any operational capability we have," he said.
NAV Canada is able to safely operate without a control tower on site — and does, at many airports — but doing so limits how much activity an airport can accommodate at any one time.
With commercial flights, charters, military planes and the flight school all relying on Regina's airport, Bogusz said having a local air traffic control tower makes a major difference.
"It's quite obvious that having boots on the ground, or, in this case, eyes in the tower, is far more efficient than trying to advise services from a city that cannot see what's going on in the airfield," he said.
Doug McNair, president of the Regina Flying Club, said the NAV Canada air controllers based in Regina are a positive presence in the city's aviation community and have helped local flight students graduate better prepared to take on all sorts of aviation jobs.
"A lot of our students go on to get their commercial licenses and they move on to the airlines or air ambulance — they have a career in aviation," he said. "A lot of those types of jobs will take them into larger airports, and larger airports and airspace that has more traffic requires a lot more training and experience.
"So in Regina here, by having the tower, we have all the benefits for our students of learning advanced procedures, taking direction from the air traffic controllers."
Rebecca Hickey, a spokesperson for NAV Canada, said the review process will include a detailed study of the types and patterns of aircraft movement at the airport, as well as consultation with local stakeholders.
While the option of closing or reducing the hours of the air traffic control is on the table, at this point in the process that is not a foregone conclusion.
"The outcome of our study could very well be status quo," Hickey said. "It's not determined, and it will be a number of months before it's concluded."