The prolonged air quality issue from wildfire smoke has reduced general aviation traffic at the Chilliwack Airport by about 80 per cent.
Private aircraft travelling up and down the Fraser Valley has diminished “to a trickle” this week, according to airport GM Garry Atkins.
He was looking out his office window Tuesday at an empty runway, and mountains obscured almost completely in the haze.
“Whereas we’d normally see about 30 aircraft or more per day coming in, yesterday we saw only five aircraft,” Atkins said.
The smoky skies, prompting ongoing air quality advisories across B.C. due to hundreds of wildfires, have reduced the number of planes in the air because of the minimum visibility requirements under the visual flight rules for flying private planes.
“It’s a safety concern. If they don’t have visibility, they are basically grounded,” Atkins said.
It is also affecting local aviation industry based out of the Chilliwack Airport.
“If aircraft can’t arrive to be serviced by the local aviation businesses as normal, they will certainly begin to feel the effects, especially if this is maintained long-term,” Atkins said. “Of course, we’d all just like this smoke to go away.”
All of the airport staff are sensitive to the devastating impact the out-of-control wildfires have had.
”We’re very concerned and thinking about the people all over the province who have to go through this now, as well as facing potentially great losses after it all.”