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Regional airport unveils new FBO terminal

Tucana Aviation partnership expected to benefit local economy
MVT red deer airport terminal opening-5
Ben Antifaiff, chair of the board of directors for the Red Deer Regional Airport Authority, speaks during the grand opening ceremony. Noel West/MVP Staff

SPRINGBROOK – Red Deer Regional Airport is one step closer to becoming the aviation gateway for Central Alberta.

The airport recently partnered with Alberta based Tucana Aviation Services Ltd. to provide a new full-service FBO (fixed based operator) VIP/ charter terminal.   

Airport authority board members, local dignitaries, politicians, Tucana Aviation representatives, and other guests gathered for the grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting for the newly completed FBO terminal on Nov. 21.  

“Our vision is to be the aviation gateway for Central Alberta and to be a key economic driver. This is one phase of that plan to continue to grow that,” said Ben Antifaiff, chair of the Red Deer Regional Airport Authority.

The new FBO terminal, operated by Tucana, will provide a variety of ground support services, including fuelling, maintenance, catering, storage hangar space, transportation, accommodations and logistics.

It will be used for scheduled private, seasonal and business charter planes, noted Antifaiff.   

“These are services that have not been provided out of this terminal in the capacity, the vision and the level of service that we expect,” he said. “We awarded the contract to Tucana because they have experience doing that.  

“We have provided charter service in the past but not to the degree or the level of customer experience that we anticipate,” he added.

The new FBO terminal is about 4,000 square feet, took two to three weeks to renovate, and cost about $130,000, noted Graham Ingham, CEO for the airport.

 “This is the existing terminal that was used to service Air Canada. We repurposed it as a charter terminal and FBO and refurbished it,” said Ingham, noting Air Canada provided service at the airport from 2013 to the fall of 2018.

“Ultimately we are focused on attracting passenger service, but that’s going to take some time,” he said. “That will involve us building a bigger terminal building. In the interim, what we are focused on is the charter traffic and growing that business as well as providing a better service to existing and new customers that are using the airport.”   

Jim Freake, manager of operations with Tucana, noted that his company's success will come through a partnership with existing businesses.

“We’re going to align ourselves in partnership with many different businesses along with the airport, to provide all the services that aircraft need to come to Central Alberta,” said Freake. “We signed in for five years to provide a service to the aviation community across Alberta, across Canada and even in the U.S.     

“As the airport’s newest partner, we see huge potential for both oil and gas companies and private aircraft operators looking for VIP service while at the same time saving thousands in operating costs,” he added.  

Red Deer County mayor Jim Wood said it will benefit the region and the local economy.

“This company coming in here will in fact create jobs for our region. It’ll continue to see our airport grow and it’s very, very important for not only Red Deer County and the city, but all communities in Central Alberta,” said Wood.

“This is a busy airport and we have a lot of activity here. This (new terminal) will continue to see that. We’re seeing new businesses coming in and growth for the region.”