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SASKATCHEWAN PROCLAIMS NOVEMBER 2 – 8 AS AVIATION AND AEROSPACE WEEK

From Jeff Kurtz,

Captain

 

A group led by the Southwest Regional Economic Development Association, working together with Saskatchewan Highways, Regina Airport Authority, Cypress Health Region, Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Tourism, COPA Flight 107, City of Swift Current, business leaders, and others around the province gave been examining ways to revitalize the Swift Current airport into a viable facility and as an economic generator for the southwest part of Saskatchewan. Together, after talking with political figures at all levels of government, discussing issues and raising the awareness in the community and beyond, it is clear that this group has had a significant impact not only in the region but in the province. I am thrilled to see our province declare an "Aviation and Aerospace Week" in recognition of the contributions that aviation has made and will make in our province.

For those members of the Southwest Flying Club / COPA 107, I want to thank all of you for sharing your enthusiasm with others about our club, our airports in the region, and our future...it is clear that together we can make a difference! With this announcement, it seems that the provincial government is starting to understand the impact and shortfall of the National Airports Policy handed down from the federal government years ago. Let's hope that with regional funding we will see airport improvements across the province and that this may have a ripple effect to our friends and neighbours in surrounding communities as well.

From Kevin Psutka, COPA President and CEO:

This is indeed good news; both the proclamation of an Aviation Week and the well-informed attitude that was expressed by Highways and Transportation

Minister Eldon Lautermilch. The recognition by the Saskatchewan government of the role that smaller airports play as economic generators is refreshing and appreciated by this Association. I have copied the Federal Transport Minister on this message so that he may reflect on the occasion of this Aviation Week and consider Saskatchewan's efforts as he deals with inter-provincial transportation matters, specifically his commitment to develop with his provincial counterparts a role for smaller airports.

Congratulations to you, COPA Flight 107 and all of the enthusiastic people who are working to improve the Swift Current airport and others in Saskatchewan.

November 2, 2006

The Province has recognized the important role that aviation plays in Saskatchewan by proclaiming November 2 – 8 as Aviation and Aerospace Week. "Air transportation has always played a critical role in strengthening the social and economic fabric of this province; making life better for families and helping young people build their future here,"

Highways and Transportation Minister Eldon Lautermilch said. "From transporting supplies to fly-in

communities, to transferring critically-ill patients via air ambulance, to fighting forest fires and spraying crops the air transportation plays an important role in our province. This government is doing what it can to ensure aviation remains a strong component of our transportation system." Under the government's new transportation strategy, the province plans to maximize the transportation system's impact on economic development and increasing access to isolated Aboriginal communities. "We need to view the aviation industry with the same innovative thinking that we're viewing the broader transportation system," Lautermilch said. "Airport infrastructure is aging and needs attention. Just as we're trying to partner with other levels of government to help open up road access in the north, we need to forge new partnerships to support the aviation industry province-wide."

While the Province owns and maintains 18 northern airports that provide key services for industry and northern citizens, the rest of the province's airports run outside of the provincial domain. "To ensure these airports remain vital, Saskatchewan will continue to press the federal government to loosen the requirements for getting federal money to improve airport infrastructure under the Airport Capital Assistance Program or ACAP," Lautermilch said. "Right now, in order to receive federal funding for airport improvement, airports must have scheduled air service, but this does not include 'charter' services. While airports like Swift Current and Shaunavon are busy with regular charters serving the oil and gas industry, they're not eligible for the same federal money because charters don't count as scheduled service.

" Saskatchewan's major airports are thriving, with both Saskatoon and Regina experiencing record breaking passenger numbers for the second year in a row. Passenger figures are up approximately 6 per cent over the year prior. As more people scope out Saskatchewan as a place to live and set up business, the viability of smaller airports is enhanced. For example, Transwest Air is now providing a vital service to Fort McMurray out of Regina and Saskatoon. This allows Saskatchewan oilsands workers to keep close ties to family back home.

This past year, the Province undertook a major improvement project at the Meadow Lake Airport to rehabilitate the runways, taxiways and aprons to enhance Saskatchewan's forest fighting capabilities. "As the aviation industry evolves, we continue to evolve with it," Lautermilch said. "It's fitting that we set aside Aviation and Aerospace Week to acknowledge how far we've come and set a course for the future." The Saskatchewan Aviation Council, in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Aerial Applicators Association, is holding a two-day conference in Saskatoon beginning today. Industry partners including the Province, regional economic development associations, First Nations, the tourism sector, airport authorities and the aviation industry itself, are coming together to discuss important issues surrounding aviation in Saskatchewan.

For More Information, Contact: Lynette PiperHighways and TransportationReginaPhone: 306-798-2116Email: lpiper@highways.gov.sk.ca