Concerns over control tower study at Windsor International Airport
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The future of the Windsor International Airport is up in the air as a study is taking place into the value of the control tower at YQG.
Pilot Jim Wilson is concerned about the news Transport Canada is undertaking a study regarding the future of the Nav Canada control tower at Windsor Airport.
The end game could result in resources being pulled from the tower.
“We've gone through this before 35-40 years ago,” says Wilson. “I remember this and it's not a good thing to close it down. There's just too much activity around here.”
Many feel someone needs to be in the tower to guide planes through an air space that includes Detroit Metro and Detroit City airports.
“You have these criss-crossy patterns and it's very important that control tower can take an aircraft and give them the guidance that they need in terms of the flight passage, landing and departing,” says Mark Galvin.
According to YQG officials, the airport experienced a banner year in 2019 with 383,000 passengers. That marked a 300 per cent increase over 2009.
“It now pays the City of Windsor a million dollars a year dividend and so all of that work we put in to the airport and growing the airport and attracting airlines could all be cut off at the knees,” says Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens.
The pandemic took the flights out of that momentum and officials feel the damage could be bigger if resources are pulled. The move could result in higher liability costs to airlines such as Sunwing and Jazz.
“It's not a permanent state and what we don't want to see happen is decisions made that have a long term impact,” says Galvin.
Dilkens sent a letter to Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, sharing concern that talks of recovery with current and new partners as well as carriers would be adversely affected by a closure of the control tower.
He points out Nav Canada is looking to examine regions such as Whitehorse, Fort McMurray and others not comparable to the volume of Windsor Airport.
“There's no sense going down this road and just saying they're going to study something if they don't have the intention of getting there at the end of the day,” says Dilkens. “This is a big red flag. It needs to be addressed and stopped immediately and we cannot afford to lose Nav Canada at Windsor Airport.”
Dilkens says the letter has also been sent to local MP's and others.
CTV News reached out to the airlines for comment.