In the mind of Richard Skermer, the Edmonton Airshow is a major way to attract new businesses to Villeneuve Airport.
“This is meant to try and draw industry and opportunity to the region,” said Skermer, who is the president of the air show, to a group of 30 people at the Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon on March 6.
The Edmonton Airshow started in 2015 and has since grown to become the second-largest aviation show in Canada, Skermer said.
According to Skermer, Villeneuve Airport could serve as an industrial one, where aircraft travelling across Alberta could get serviced. Currently airports like the Edmonton International Airport have mechanics onsite to service aircraft, but that often gets in the way of the airport's normal commercial operations.
He said the Villeneuve Airport could serve as an airport handling cargo, and the Edmonton Garrison military base could also use the airport to practise parachuting.
“Villeneuve is perfect for it,” he explained. “Instead of doing one sortie a trip, we use Villeneuve and they can do 35.”
The Edmonton Airshow is soon going to rebrand, in an attempt to draw in crowds from across Canada. Skermer said it is important to have a clear identity while providing a show that’s attractive to all demographics.
He said the average age of an attendee who goes to an air show in Canada is 65 years old and older. The reason behind the age range is because many shows feature old war birds, which don’t connect with younger demographics.
“They'll never own a Mustang,” he said.
According to Skermer, the event has already been strategizing ways to bring in more attendees, such as staying away from the Calgary Stampede. He said usually people are busy at the week-long rodeo event, making it nearly impossible to get them to Villeneuve.
The show is also staged according to seasons. In August, there are few thunderstorms, making it the best time for multiple aircraft circling and diving in the air.
Skermer said the Edmonton Airshow’s new name is still being developed, along with its rebranding.
The Edmonton Airport Authority – a department under the Edmonton International Airport, which owns Villeneuve – is helping Skermer develop the branding.
When it comes to the future of aviation, Skermer said there’s a large demand for both pilots and mechanics. With the ever-expanding workforce, he said traffic through the airport would only be increasing.
Brad White, director of planning and economic development with the Town of Morinville, asked how the region could support the air show.
Skermer said promoting the event, as well as the industrial aspects of the airport, would help attract more people and businesses to Villeneuve Airport.
This year, the Edmonton Airshow takes place on Aug. 17 and 18. For more information, visit: https://www.edmontonairshow.com/.