Northwestern delays takeoff
Tuesday, Nov 22, 2011 06:00 am
Plans by Northwestern Air to offer twice-weekly service between Red Deer Airport and Kelowna, B.C. have been put on hold until early in the new year due to unresolved operational requirements from Transport Canada, an airline official said last week.
According to Northwestern Air general manager Gordon Bush, the delay is due to operational requirements issued by Transport Canada the airline believed had already been resolved and ratified.
“It appears they don’t seem to have the information they require. But there’s all sorts of variations on this and we really don’t know where we are right now. We’re trying to get some clarity of exactly what they do want,” Bush said Nov. 16. “We’re open to supplying the information they require but we’re not 100 per cent clear exactly what they want.”
Bush said the airline had received an email from a Transport Canada inspector on Nov. 2 stating that there were unresolved issues with the airline’s plan to fly into Kelowna Airport. Northwestern then tried to contact the inspector via email and phone calls, Bush explained. By the time the inspector finally contacted Northwestern on Nov. 14, the airline had already suspended the flight, Bush said.
“We couldn’t hang out any longer for a response to our email,” said Bush.
“As we didn’t have the big green light we made a decision to suspend it until we had all the ducks lined up.”
In an email, Transport Canada spokesperson Jason Campbell said Northwestern has been authorized to use a Jetstream 31 on the route but inquired about using the Jetstream 32, which can carry more baggage. To do so would require an amendment of the Northwestern’s Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and Campbell said the company submitted a formal application for the switch on Nov. 15 to amend their AOC.
“Transport Canada is currently working with the company to finalize this application and amend the company’s AOC,” Campbell wrote in an email. “Transport Canada may take 30-60 days to approve the application to amend the AOC.”
Northwestern management has decided to hold off on announcing an actual launch date for the service until all the issues are resolved, Bush said, noting they are hopeful of starting up sometime in early 2012.
“(It’s) very disappointing,” he said. “We thought there weren’t any issues because our operations manager had been with a consultant to Transport Canada to present all this information to them and they said, ‘That’s fine.’ Then we started planning the schedule.”