An expansion of the boarding lounge at Penticton airport that was supposed to begin before the first WestJet flight landed has yet to take off.
The contract for the first phase of the project, which would have seen installation of a bigger, temporary boarding lounge to accommodate the larger passenger volumes associated with the new service to Calgary, was supposed to have been awarded in September with work completed by October.
However, the tender was “considered unsuccessful, as we were unable to award a construction contract,” Transport Canada spokeswoman Sau Sau Liu said in a statement that did not indicate if any bids were received.
“Pursuant to federal government contracting policies, information about the tender process cannot be disclosed to the public,” she said.
Once that temporary hold room was in place, work should have begun on the project’s second phase to increase capacity of the existing boarding lounge from 50 to 90 people.
That portion of the project, originally planned to be complete by December, never even made it to tender.
Liu would not elaborate on how the plans have changed, but said a capacity increase is still in the works and Transport Canada hopes to issue a new tender “as soon as possible.”
“Once a construction contract is in place, we will be able to provide a completion date,” she added.
WestJet Encore spokesman Robert Palmer said the company, which operates 78-seat planes on its new Penticton-Calgary route, is managing for now.
“The size of the boarding lounge does present some operational challenges for WestJet as its capacity is less than the capacity of the aircraft we are using, meaning that it takes a little extra time to board our flight on days when the load factor is high,” he said in a statement.
“However, we know that this is a temporary situation and will continue to work with it until the renovations are completed.”
Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas said in a statement he is “always concerned where there is a delay in getting something done.”
However, “I am encouraged that Transport Canada is committed to the expansion.”
The value of the contract to build the temporary hold room was estimated at up to $249,000 in the bid documents. Transport Canada, which owns and operates the airport, is responsible for any such costs.
A separate $6.7-million runway upgrade project at the airport was completed on time in October, Liu said, although some minor work remains to be done on the apron.