Charlottetown Airport is Prince Edward Islands
busiest and most central airport, providing passenger,
air charter, and cargo service for the entire province.
Built by the Royal Air Force in 1941, the Charlottetown
Airport was originally used as an air navigational school
and for general reconnaissance training during World War
II. In 1943, it was turned over to the Royal Canadian Air
Force and, in 1946, was taken over by the federal
Department of Transport for use as the provinces
only commercial airport. On March 1, 1999, management of
the facility was transferred from Transport Canada to the
Charlottetown Airport Authority Incorporated (1996), with
a board of directors consisting of 11 representatives
from the Island business community.
In 1941, Charlottetown-born Carl Frederick Burke founded Maritime Central Airways (MCA). Burke earned his pilots licence and bought his first plane from money earned as a hardware store clerk. By 1963, when Burke sold his airline to Eastern Provincial Airways, MCA had become Canadas largest independent cargo airline.
Rapid growth in air travel during the 1960s and 1970s hastened the expansion and modernization of airport facilities beginning in 1978. The completed facility was officially opened in May 1986. The airport presently has two runways and is equipped with a full instrument landing system, high intensity approach landing system, control tower, flight service station, and emergency response services.
The Charlottetown airport services represent an infusion of an estimated $30 million into Prince Edward Islands economy. Airport enterprises employ approximately 160 full-time and part-time employees year-round and spend more than $7.75 million in goods and services in the province. In 1997, 172,000 passengers moved through the airport. The estimated figure for 1998 is 195,800 passengers. The air terminal building houses a restaurant/lounge, gift shop, car rental facilities, long term and short term parking, Commissionaire Corps security, a spacious and comfortable waiting area, and wheelchair accessible doors and washrooms.
Air Canada, Air Nova, and Inter-Canadian offer up to 14 daily return flights between Charlottetown and Halifax International Airport, which connects to major cities in Canada, the United States, and Europe. These flights are approximately 35 minutes in duration. Air Canada also offers daily non-stop flights to and from Toronto. The summer months see additional weekly charter flights between Charlottetown and Toronto.
Prince Edward Air has been in service since 1990, offering charters to any North American destination, and providing emergency (Medivac) transportation, fisheries patrol, and cargo transport services. Aircraft in the companys fleet can carry up to 9 passengers and up to 3,500 pounds of cargo. Near Summerside, the Slemon Park Corporation operates the Summerside Airport, which supports general aviation and complements the growing aerospace park.