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Support our Regional Airport

Web posted on October 26, 2016

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

Recently American Airlines ended ("they call it a "suspension") their service to Chicago from the Region of Waterloo International Airport (YKF). The flights were actually operated by American Eagle, their feeder carrier. They claim that the route was successful. Their stated rationale for suspending the service was the low dollar, and being able to redeploy the aircraft on more profitable routes. In reality they are retiring many of their smaller regional jets (less than 50 seats) in favour of 70-90 seat models. For example, if we were filling only 80% of the seats on a 50 passenger plane on average, there would not be enough passengers to make it viable to use a 70 passenger aircraft. We were not told how many seats were being filled. United and Delta seem to be doing the same thing. There are a lot of small regional jets being put into storage, more than likely to be scrapped. This leaves many smaller and even medium sized Canadian markets without flights to the United States. London lost their Chicago flight earlier in the year. With the population of the region, plus people from surrounding areas we should have been able to fill every flight. If we had created enough demand, they would have brought in the larger aircraft, and continued the service.

Why are we not supporting our local airport? It is so much more convenient than driving down the 401. There are significant savings to be had in time, gas, and parking charges, not to mention less stress. It would be nice to know how many people from the region and the surrounding area fly from Toronto every day. It would also be nice to know the destinations. Even if we eliminate those travelers flying overseas, it must still be a significant number.

It is a small terminal, but should be able to support a fair number of flights per day. The parking lot will probably need some expansion if there are more flights. The runway is long enough to allow Boeing 737 sized aircraft to fly non-stop to almost anywhere in North America, Mexico and the Caribbean. However, it was not designed to accommodate larger aircraft.

The Region seems to be trying very hard to attract new airlines, but for some reason it's not happening. They keep telling us that they are talking to various airlines but without any success. Perhaps the airlines are hesitant because we have not been supporting previous services such as Bearskin to Ottawa. Possibly there are other issues that we are not aware of. There is another possible reason. There have been noise complaints. Once again a lack of planning comes to mind. The region should have not allowed homes to be built to the west of the airport. That should have been designated industrial or commercial. There should be at least five kilometres between the end of the runway and new homes. People who buy homes near airports should expect noise and have no right to complain. They knew what they were getting into even if the won't admit it. I would say the same for people who live near rail lines or busy highways. Today's jets are much quieter than they used to be. You might not even notice them over the traffic noise. Yes, there was an issue with Nolinor using their old Boeing 737s. They were very noisy birds. A few older noisy cargo jets visit from time to time, mostly in the middle of the night. These flights usually bring in parts from Mexico and the southern U.S. On the other hand there are much louder motorcycles driving around.

All of my flying has been vacation related, but I reached the point where the whole flying experience had become a pain. I devoted an entire column to flying back in February and I plan to have a sequel at some point. If I had to fly somewhere, I would go to great lengths to avoid the airport down the 401. Of course, I would prefer YKF, but I would consider Hamilton, and even London. Unfortunately, there are no longer year round flights to the United States from any of the airports in south-western Ontario. On the other hand as I said in my earlier column, I would love to have the resources to use a private jet.

Right now we are down to one Westjet flight to Calgary per day. It is poorly timed to make connections in Calgary. If there were an earlier flight, easy connections could be made to most of western Canada. London and Hamilton have better departure times.

We do not have enough winter flights to warm destinations. Right now we have one flight a week to Orlando, and one the Dominican Republic. These might not be the first choice for many southbound vacationers. It would be nice to have a much better choice of destinations. There are probably enough local people who go to Toronto for their vacation flight to support many more local flights to warmer climates. Both Hamilton and London have more winter destinations than YKF. If we don't demand these flights when booking that winter vacation, we will never get more flights.

The airport is currently working on a new master plan. They are looking for input. Please visit their web site: waterlooairport.ca. Unfortunately Guelph does not have a say on what happens at the airport. At one point we had a stake in the airport but sold it to the Region of Waterloo. Another ill conceived decision in a very long line of extremely poor decisions by our short sighted elected officials.

We need to support our regional airport. Use it or lose it.


Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at news@thefountainpen.com

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.


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