Off to a flying start in Earlton: Hangar construction, cobalt exploration, avgas sales fuel optimism for Timiskaming airport authority.

Author:Ross, Ian
Position::Temiskaming & Region
 
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Not long ago, there was an underlying sentiment that the Earlton-Timiskaming Regional Airport should be sold off.

The rural airport was becoming too much of a financial burden for the Township of Armstrong to operate.

Area municipalities were contributing to cover expenses, but there was nothing left in the coffers to make the ongoing capital improvements to the airfield and infrastructure.

These days, gloomy pessimism has given way to blue-sky optimism.

At the one-year anniversary of the new airport authority, Temiskaming Shores Mayor Carman Kidd, the board chair, is pleased with the way the group is functioning and the direction being taken.

The installation of larger fuel tanks last November-25,000 litres for jet fuel and 15,000 litres for aviation gas--is paying immediate dividends.

"We sold more fuel in January than we've ever sold in the history of the airport," said Kidd.

With mineral exploration booming just to the south near the town of Cobalt, there's been a noticeable uptick in traffic with fuelling stops by helicopters on airborne geophysics missions as well as corporate and medevac aircraft.

"We're only expecting that to increase," said Kidd. "We're not running out (of fuel) anymore."

The latest development involves the upcoming construction of six T-hangars to accommodate recreational aircraft, thanks to $318,000 from FedNor funding.

Some of the funding is allocated for runway lighting upgrades and to install new cardlock security fuelling stations.

While companies like Pedersen Construction, Wabusk Air, and Canadian Aviation College have their own hangar space, Kidd said there was no storage space for local recreational flyers who leased space in North Bay, Sudbury and Val d'Or, Quebec.

"It was something we were really missing."

For $400 per month, the authority expects to have no trouble leasing out the first six T-hangars. Once those are occupied, more could be on the way.

The combined $2,400 provides a much-needed boost to the authority's treasury to start putting its strategic plan into motion.

Other revenue is generated from landing fees and fuel sales, backed by $160,000 in annual subsidies from the 13 area municipalities who sit around the board table.

Established in 1937, the airport is located in a rural area about two kilometres outside of Earlton.

Armstrong Township operated the field through a municipal service board.

But Kidd said the old governance model wasn't working for the municipal contributors who didn't...

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