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Local airport manager says business is slowly bouncing back from pandemic

The Kootenay Rockies International Airport’s traffic is improving since travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic were lifted.

While more people came through the airport in 2022, Airport Manager Tristen Chernove said they are not fully back at pre-pandemic levels yet.

“We’re finishing 2022 with about 140,000 passengers, which is down considerably from the pre-pandemic 186,000,” said Chernove. “It shows me that the only limiting factor is the recovery of the airlines, which is going to take a little bit longer.”

Chernove said this is because it has been a challenge for the industry to go from a nearly complete shut-down to being fully back in operation.

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“The air travel industry is resilient, and we’re seeing that play out,” said Chernove. “It’s going to be a bit of a long road to get back to an ecosystem across the country and across the world that we want to see.”

Chernove said the issue is on airlines, as there is no shortage of customers at the moment.

“Across the travel sector, there is more demand than there are seats in the air right now. We have to have a business proposition that is showing greater yield and importance to our market over others in order to increase capacity,” explained Chernove.

He explained the airport is expecting to spend about $4.6-million in capital upgrades in 2023, including new electric vehicle charging stations, better lighting and improved equipment.

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