November 17, 2009
The Chair and Board of Directors of the Northern Development Initiative Trust are pleased to congratulate the Board and staff of the Prince George Airport Authority on the arrival of the first 747 aircraft that landed today for refueling.
Prince George residents in cars lined the roads on the airport perimeter and dignitaries were bussed to the refueling pad, all with a front row seat to see the big bird land. The emotion in the crown was loud and proud with cheering as the rumbling plane roared overhead to touch down on the third longest runway in Canada.
Bruce Sutherland, Chair of Northern Development remarked that “Now we have seen tangible evidence that four years of effort are coming to fruition in expanding Pacific Gateway economic benefits for Prince George and northern BC. We are standing on a refueling pad that can take up to three of these huge jets at one time, before they head off across the continent.”
The Boeing 747 Aircraft operated by Southern Air Inc. arrived from Shanghai, China and Anchorage at 8am stuffed with cargo, and took on 130,000 litres from three tanker trucks as well as a three man crew that had overnighted in Prince George, and then promptly departed for Caracaras, Venezuela.
The veteran crew including a woman pilot from New York and a flight engineer from Wasilla, Alaska, remarked on how pleased they were to have a tech stop alternative to Anchorage, while they were presented with Canadian Olympic scarves by Dustie Hall, representative of Transportation and Infrastructure Minister, Shirley Bond.
“Our government recognizes the importance of regional airports like Prince George and has invested millions of dollars right across the province,” said Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond. “As an MLA this has been a key priority and I am hopeful that the arrival of the first 747 cargo plane in Prince George marks the beginning of new economic opportunities, as Prince George becomes a key northern gateway for trade to the Asia-Pacific.”
Air carriers flying on transpacific routings require “tech stops” for refueling enroute to maximize payload or cargo volumes, and the Prince George Airport is strategically located to attract and secure this business.
In October 2006, Northern Development Initiative Trust announced an $11 million loan to the Prince George Airport Authority to extend the airport runway and position the airport to attract large passenger and cargo aircraft landings that will create to significant economic opportunities in the region. This funding was strategically positioned to secure $22 million in Provincial and Federal investment for the project.
The airport extension project was considered by elected officials from 40 municipalities and 10 regional districts across central and northern BC as critical infrastructure for the Northern Gateway to Asia that will lead to economic benefits to all communities in the region. Northern Development’s Board is pleased to celebrate today’s landmark occasion in securing the first 747 landing, affirming the Airport Authority’s business plan and demonstrating that this vital piece of northern BC’s Transportation network is positioned to secure new international business.
"This is a terrific day for Prince George and for Northern British Columbia!" said the Honourable Jay Hill, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Member of Parliament for Prince George – Peace River. "The Government of Canada is pleased to be a partner in establishing the Prince George airport as a new key link in international trade. Congratulations to the Airport Authority and the City of Prince George for making this vision a reality through hard work and perseverance!"
Southern Air 747 pilots with Janine North, CEO for Northern Development, and
Dustie Hall representing Minister Shirley Bond, Transportation and Infrastructure.
Ms. Hall presented the American crew with Canadian Olympic 2010 scarves.
Northern Development’s Board sees the Prince George Airport as a catalyst for new growth and investment in central and northern BC that supports the Board’s strategic goals of job creation, economic diversification and investment attraction in the regional economy. Northern Development’s $11 million in infrastructure loan funding will result in a return of capital to the Trust in a few short years to support other major projects in the region that will benefit northern communities. The Board is focused on sustainable management of the Trust that ensures this funding continues to be available as a catalyst for future opportunities, with decisions “In the North, for the North,” just as the Prince George Airport will be a catalyst for growth for the entire northern BC region.