The future of the Chilliwack Airport looks bright as management has shifted to the hands of local businessman and pilot Bryan Kirkness. Kirkness told the Times he has bought out Magnum Management, the company that holds a 50-year lease to run the airport for the City of Chilliwack, which owns the property and the terminal.
Since the creation of the Chilliwack Aviation and Aerospace Planning Committee four years ago, some level of frustration had been expressed about missed opportunities at the airport.
Kirkness has an enthusiasm for flying but also for the potential of the Chilliwack Airport, and he hopes his purchase of Magnum bodes well for the future.
"Our intention is to get as much aerospace business and [as many] high-tech jobs in as possible," Kirkness said. "We are going to work very closely with CEPCO and the city on that."
Mayor Sharon Gaetz expressed her support for the change at the airport.
"The city is excited about having a business person of Bryan's calibre as a partner in the operation of the airport," she said. "Council looks forward to the development of a new vision for the airport in cooperation with CEPCO."
Kirkness said some of the potential at the airport includes further hangar development and attracting more aerospace business.
He said the "beautiful" airport is well-positioned geographically to capitalize on the future in the Fraser Valley. Abbotsford Airport has a focus on international travel and Langley Regional Airport is helicopter-focused.
"So you have Chilliwack or Pitt Meadows and Chilliwack is wellpositioned for the Interior and is less congested than Pitt Meadows," he said.
One specific improvement Kirkness wants to make as soon as possible is to bring instrument approach to the airport so that pilots can come and go in all weather conditions.
"We're kicking around a lot of ideas right now," he said.
Kirkness said the airport management is currently in a transition mode. While he is now in charge, the current administration team will stay on except for airport manager Ed Wilkins who plans to retire. Without putting down what Wilkins did at the airport, Kirkness said he hopes his takeover can spur positive change.
"I think it's always helpful to have a fresh set of eyes on a project," he said. "I'm a pilot myself and I have two of my own aircraft. I might have a different perspective. I want to build on what we have.
"I'm really happy and I think it's going to be good for Chilliwack."
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