Northwest News

This well-kept secret could become even more attractive for Whatcom County travelers

Abbotsford International Airport is about to begin a $5 million expansion project that will double the capacity of the secure waiting area to 600 passengers and add two new gates and could create options for Whatcom travelers.
Abbotsford International Airport is about to begin a $5 million expansion project that will double the capacity of the secure waiting area to 600 passengers and add two new gates and could create options for Whatcom travelers. McClatchy

Can't get where you want to go out of Bellingham International Airport and don't want to mess with the travel headaches of heading to Seattle or Vancouver to fly out? There is another option right in Whatcom County's backyard, and it is about to get a whole lot more attractive.

According to a story in the Vancouver Sun, Abbotsford International Airport is about to begin a $5 million, 14,000-square foot expansion project that will double the capacity of the secure waiting area to 600 passengers and add two new gates. The project is expected to be completed by November.

Abbotsford International is located just north of the U.S.-Canadian border, about seven miles from the Sumas border crossing and 6 1/2 miles from the Lynden/Aldergrove crossing.

The airport, according to its website, currently services four national carriers — West Jet, Air Canada Rogue, Flair and Swoop — international carrier Sunwing and regional airline Island Express Air. It has direct service to Canadian cities Calgary, Comox, Edmonton, Nanaimo, Toronto (seasonally), Victoria, Winnipeg and Hamilton, with connections to a number of other Canadian and U.S. cities. Sunwing makes seasonal non-stop trips to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

With more space and two new gates, it's reasonable to expect that list could grow.

In 2017, 677,653 passengers traveled through Abbotsford International, according to a January release from the airport, up 27.7 percent over its 2016 total of 530,000. The airport expects to see up to 800,000 passengers in 2018, according to the Sun, and is hoping the expansion will help it top one million by 2020.

"Abbotsford International Airport has seen tremendous growth over the past two years," Abbotsford mayor and Airport Authority chair Henry Braun said.

For comparison, the Port of Bellingham reported 373,877 people flew out of Bellingham International airport in 2017, a 10.8 percent drop from 2016 and less than two-thirds of the nearly 600,000 that traveled through the airport in 2013.

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