Airport seeks weekend Customs service

Kamloops Airport submitted a business case last February to have an on-call Custom service at the airport on weekends

Kamloops Airport submitted a business case last February to have an on-call Custom service at the airport on weekends but has yet to hear back.

“A business plan was developed and presented to Customs officials on Feb 23,” said airport manager Fred Legace. “I was anticipating getting at least a question or two about the proposal, but nothing so far.”

The service is of interest to those in the North Thompson Valley because many clients of Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing and Sun Peaks arrive by private plane on weekends. It also would possibly be of interest to the staff and investors involved with any of the several mines proposed for the area.

Custom service is presently offered at Kamloops Airport during regular business hours on weekdays.

Aircraft arriving outside those times are diverted to Calgary, Kelowna or Vancouver.

After being cleared by Customs the then continue on to Kamloops.

According to the airport’s business case, an average of four or five private planes bring guests for Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing to Blue River or Kamloops every Saturday during the ski season.

Diverting those aircraft to another airport to clear Customs could $6,000 to $10,000 to the cost of the trip.

Making it more convenient for aircraft to land and stay at Kamloops would add to the airport’s revenue through landing fees, on-ground handling fees (one aircraft arrival will generate $17,500 in ground handling services revenue), aircraft catering, and so on.

One aircraft carrying eight guests could generate close to $160,000 in direct value to MWHS.

Many choose to be picked up by a helicopter from Blue River at Kamloops Airport. Others make the trip by limousine.

MWHS attracts some of the wealthiest people in the world, commented lead guide Tim McLean.

They have their choice of places to go and any impediment makes it less likely that they will choose Blue River.

With 190 employees during the winter, the heli-ski operation is the Valley’s single biggest employer, he pointed out.

The business and its employees generate significant tax revenue for all levels of government.

McLean said that making Custom service available during the weekends at Kamloops was not an unreasonable request.