Pique n' your interest 

Oh air services where art thou?

A strange thing happened at a Pemberton council meeting two weeks ago.

Bill Neale arrived with his 10-year-business plan for the airport, gave his presentation and then left so he could fly home.

It was supposed to be a pivotal moment in the development of the airport, but I couldn’t help be feel that it wasn’t that at all.

Neale clearly has a wealth of knowledge but the council’s reaction to his report left this journalist with only one glaring question, "So now what?"

That question was asked of the council at the end of that meeting and even then their response was rather flabbergasting.

It was flabbergasting because for a few glaring seconds there wasn’t a response.

After 15 years of deliberation and hundreds of meetings, the awarding of the 2010 Olympics and now a juicy report on the future of the airport – and the council wasn’t too sure what they were going to do next.

Mayor Warner finally said the council would now review the report and that it was in "no hurry to make a decision".

So rather than wait for the council, in the past week my goal was to find out exactly what could/should come next.

To expand on this, I’ll first explain who/what is involved in the Pemberton airport saga.

The short version is that there’s four people or organizations involved: Pemberton council, Prime Air, Intrawest and now Neale and his report.

Neale is a consultant and the only one on the aforementioned list who doesn’t have a problem; the others have problems, starting with the Pemberton council.

The council’s biggest problem is money.

Pemberton councilors get paid about $15 a day.

For $15 a day they get to deal with all kinds of disputes and the airport, which has the potential to be one of the region’s biggest draw-cards come 2010.

Pemberton council also needs more money so they can:

• Employ an airport manager to close this deal;

• Commission other studies into the airport;

• Get the airport classified by Transport Canada for passenger services (at the moment the airport is only classified for chartered services).

The best way for the council to get more money for the airport is for the airport to start making money, which brings us to Prime Air. (See a Catch-22 emerging here?)

Prime Air is a company that specializes in Fixed Based Operations, which means they manage most of the stuff, like refueling, that happens on the ground at an airport.

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