Regina Airport the focus of Chamber lunch

While they’re located in Regina, the Regina Airport Authority wants people in Yorkton and across Southern Saskatchewan to view the airport as their airport. James Bogusz, president and CEO of the Regina Airport Authority, has been travelling the province to talk to people about air travel, both about how they’re changing to meet people’s needs, but also looking into what people want from their airport. He spoke to a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in the city about what they are doing in Regina.

Bogusz knows that people in Yorkton have choice in where they fly. Regina might be closest, but Saskatoon isn’t that far away, and Winnipeg is also a trip that makes sense for many people.

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The big challenge facing the airport right now is US flights. United left Regina in 2015, and took with them the airport’s connection to a major US hub. They are now working on getting a regular flight to Denver, Colorado.

“One of the big issues we’ve had, of course, is the lack of connectivity direct to the US, to a major US hub like Denver. We’ve been actively marketing to companies like United Airlines and Skywest Airlines, and others, to encourage them to give the Queen City another look. You have to remember we’re drawing in passengers from all over southern Saskatchewan, it’s not just the city of Regina, and by having additional options, it would hopefully attract people to come and consider us, rather than driving to Winnipeg or Saskatoon.”

The airport is undergoing a number of changes to meet the needs of passengers in the area. The most visible change involves large renovations to the terminal right now, to give people options for shops and services past security. The million dollar renovations will see the Tim Horton’s, Skyway restaurant and Relay gift store moving behind security.

“The last time I checked, you cannot bring a coffee through security, they make you dump it out, so we want you to buy that after you’re relaxed and you’re waiting for your flight in the hold room,” said Bogusz.

It will also be cheaper to go to the airport. For anyone parking long term, rates are taking a significant decrease from the old rate of $105/week. The new rate is $15/day for the first five days, and $7 a day after. Bogusz said that their goal is to encourage more people to use the long term parking at the airport.

They are also changing what they’re charging shuttle services to deliver people to the airport. Instead of a flat, $600 annual fee, the charge will now be on a per-trip basis, based on the passenger rating of the vehicle used - a vehicle under 24 passengers is charged $10 per trip. They wanted to make airport transportation make sense for people operating shuttles out of smaller communities, while a flat fee would discourage operators from going into the airport, said Bogusz.

“We want their business at the Regina Airport.”

The goal of the changes is to drive the revenue of the airport. Bogusz said that while airports can have a reputation as being a price gouging, they instead want to have a structure that encourages people to use their services. Pointing to long-term parking, they hope the fee reduction will mean more people in the lots, and as a result, they will make more which they can use to keep the airport up to date, safe and relevant.

“I want to grow the pie of revenue, not just fight over existing revenue, and try and charge another buck for parking. Let’s drop that rate down, let’s use those lots, let’s drop those land fees down to attract new businesses to open in the Regina airport, which creates jobs, which creates tax revenue for the city, and of course rent that helps us keep our fees reasonable for our customers. It’s a big cycle, but it’s a positive one, and done right, it helps our community grow.”

While he notes that he enjoys travelling the province either way, the tour of Saskatchewan, from a business perspective, is because they need to meet their customers, and their customers don’t only live in Regina.

“We don’t just serve the city of Regina, we serve over half a million people in our catchment area. It includes communities like Swift Current, Weyburn, Estevan, Moose Jaw, and of course, the beautiful city of Yorkton,” Bogusz said.

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