Muskoka will need to learn from the successes and mistakes of other airports in Ontario.
This was the message conveyed today by officials with Enterprise Canada as they presented the next steps in attracting tier one Canadian airline companies to the region.
Explorers’ Edge, which is dealing with the behind-the-scenes planning stages of working towards offering commercial flights at our airport, has been working with Enterprise on gathering vital information to help Muskoka move forward.
During a stakeholders meeting, officials with Enterprise presented the necessary next steps that could lead to Muskoka entering into serious discussions with airlines like Air Canada, WestJet and Porter.
Transportation Practice Leader with Enterprise John Howe says this includes gathering information from airports in Ontario that offer these regional commercial flights.
However, he has pointed out one important factor for stakeholders to think about.
Howe says Muskoka will not be considered for commercial flights unless we’re ready to receive them at the airport.
Howe says the other important detail is ensuring there is some type of ground transportation available to passengers when they arrive.
He says this can come in the form of airport shuttles or a car rental service set up at the terminal.
Howe says another driving factor that will interest both airlines and potential tourists is offering all-inclusive destination packages.
Lake of Bays Mayor Bob Young expressed his concern that these types of upgrades are a major risk to tax payers. Especially if Muskoka ends up not being able to successfully attract any commercial airlines.
Howe addressed these concerns by pointing out the benefits of taking these risks if this venture is successful.
He added that the increase in tourism dollars would allow for more expansion of infrastructure and the airport would need more employees to offer a variety of new services.
Enterprise will be coming back to officials and stakeholders with a final strategy report on December 12th and is hoping to have Muskoka ready to shop around to these commercial airline services by the beginning of January.