***SPECIAL *** West coast report: Prince George airport to be transferred to local control

by Canadian Shipper

Transport Minister David Collenette and James Blake, chairman of the Prince George Airport Authority, yesterday announced the signing of an agreement to transfer control of Prince George Airport from the Government of Canada to the airport authority.

Prince George is the last of the 26 National Airports System airports to be transferred.

Under the National Airports Policy, which was announced in July 1994, Prince George Airport is designated as part of the National Airports System (NAS) and is an essential component of Canada’s air transportation network. The policy calls for the operation, management and development of NAS airports to be transferred to Canadian Airport Authorities and for authorities to maintain a high degree of accountability to the public.

"The National Airports Policy enables communities to take greater control of their airports, reduce costs, and attract new and different types of business," said Mr. Collenette. "The better use of transportation infrastructure in this manner will ultimately provide better service, address local needs and meet operational requirements of air carriers."

The official transfer is scheduled to take place March 31, 2003. This will allow time for the government to meet employee notification requirements and for the authority to prepare for the takeover. Transport Canada employees at the airport will be offered positions with the Prince George Airport Authority at their current salary levels. It is anticipated that most employees will transfer to the authority.

Transport Canada will continue to regulate the safe provision of air navigation facilities and services at Prince George Airport and across the country. The department will also continue to enhance safety and security at Canadian airports through aviation regulation and the airport certification process.

Transport Canada is building on the National Airports Policy by developing a Canada Airports Act. The act will, among other things, spell out more clearly the roles and responsibilities of airport authorities and the requirements related to transparency and accountability to the public.

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