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Thunder Bay Airport no longer designated international

Airport officials have until June 30 to appeal the decision
Thunder Bay International Airport
Thunder Bay Airport (TBNewsWatch photo)

It appears Thunder Bay Airport has lost its international standing.

The airport no longer appears on a Transport Canada list of 13 airports currently designated as international airports.

Ed Schmidtke, president and CEO of the Thunder Bay International Airports Authority, said he's not sure when the change was made, but added it really doesn't have much of an impact on the day-to-day operations of the airport.

"At the airport we will still have customs people. We've always had good strong service with Customs Canada that won't change. From a quality, customer, consumer perspective, everything remains the same," Schmidtke said.

"What this changes is a list of airports where the government of Canada is going to provide a broader range of services, things like plant quarantines, animal quarantines – the sorts of things that go on in the background when you're doing regular traffic with more exotic countries from any of the four corners of the earth.”

Cities with airports currently in the international category include Calgary, Edmonton, Fredericton, N.B., Gander, N.L., Halifax, Moncton, N.B., Ottawa, Quebec St. John's, N.L, Vancouver and Winnipeg. Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International and Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau International airports are also on the list.

The change appears to have been made effective on Jan. 26, according to a document on the Transport Canada website.

Schmidtke said the change has no impact on the airport's financial operations. 

"As I said, this is going to be a significant shopping list of services that the government of Canada needs to provide to welcome airlines and passengers from the four corners of the earth that, quite frankly, were never destined originally for Thunder Bay," he said.

According to Transport Canada, only airports officially designated as international by Transport Canada Civil Aviation may use the term in their names. Airports that only serve trans-border traffic with the United States do not qualify. The term international creates an expectation of certain services, including customs and immigration, health border and clearance services.

Thunder Bay Airport, which is run by the Thunder Bay International Airports Authority, has in the past offered charter flights to southern destinations, but those flights have been slowed by the onset of COVID-19. The airport authority can keep the word international in its title.

Airports not on the list can appeal the decision, but must demonstrate they meet the TCAA criteria. The deadline to appeal is June 30. 

Other airports recently listed as international that no longer appear on the list include Hamilton, London, Ont., Regina, and Saskatoon.

– TBNewsWatch