New busi­ness set­ting up at Wiar­ton-Kep­pel air­port

Wiarton Echo - - PAST AND PRESENT -

ROB GOWAN Postmedia News

An air­craft main­te­nance and me­chan­i­cal ser­vice busi­ness is re­lo­cat­ing to the Wiar­ton Kep­pel In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

R&D Avi­a­tion, which services both pri­vate and com­mer­cial air­craft, is re­lo­cat­ing to the air­port from Guelph. The busi­ness, which is to op­er­ate out of a hangar at the air­port, em­ploys four peo­ple, and is ex­pected to at­tract air­craft from a vast area, in­creas­ing traf­fic and the pro­file of the air­port, said Ge­or­gian Bluffs Mayor Al Bar­foot.

“It is small, but it is an ex­am­ple of one of the many ini­tia­tives we have go­ing on to bring busi­ness to the air­port,” said Bar­foot.

R & D Avi­a­tion is an Ap­proved Main­te­nance Op­er­a­tor with Trans­port Canada for both pri­vate and com­mer­cial air­craft. Bar­foot said that by hav­ing an ap­proved AMO at the air­port, it al­lows it to com­pete with other air­ports such as Peter­bor­ough, Water­loo Re­gion and Lake Sim­coe in of­fer­ing com­mer­cial main­te­nance services.

Bar­foot said it will also help at­tract other avi­a­tion busi­nesses at the air­port.

Ge­or­gian Bluffs took over full own­er­ship of the cer­ti­fied air­port in June 2015 af­ter pur­chas­ing South Bruce Penin­sula’s 50 per cent stake for $600,000. Prior to the trans­ac­tion, lit­tle had been done to the fa­cil­ity since the fed­eral government down­loaded it to the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in 1996, as they were of­ten at odds over what di­rec­tion it should be taken.

Since it pur­chased the fa­cil­ity, Ge­or­gian Bluffs has also bought the old ter­mi­nal build­ing and ren­o­vated it. The Fly­ing Diner restau­rant is cur­rently op­er­at­ing out of the build­ing.

Bar­foot said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is work­ing with Re­gional Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion 7, which in­cludes Grey-Bruce to pro­mote the air­port from a tourism and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment stand­point.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity has also re­tained the mar­ket­ing and con­sul­ta­tion firm Think Com­pass and is work­ing with them to bring other busi­ness to the air­port. Bar­foot said they are cur­rently in talks with other avi­a­tion busi­nesses to lo­cate at the air­port, but noth­ing more has been fi­nal­ized.

A sur­vey con­ducted in Fe­bru­ary re­vealed a strong ap­petite for sched­uled pas­sen­ger flights from Wiar­ton to Toronto and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and Think Com­pass are in dis­cus­sions with air­line car­ri­ers about of­fer­ing flights.

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