The community of Dawson City, Yukon has an airport but it needs a paved runway. Right now it has a 5,000 foot gravel airstrip. All its neighbors - north, east and west have paved runways. As well the Dawson City airport has a small, cramped, terminal building.
Why does it matter ?
Well for starters, Dawson City is home to the the Klondike. A beautiful gem of a city, it attracts thousands of tourists each summer. Indeed, the largest tourism operator, Holland America, brings in 60,000 visitors a season mostly with flights through Air North.
The Boeing 737-200 is the only common commercial jet that can be equipped to fly on a gravel runway. It’s a 1960s vintage aircraft that was last produced in the 1980s. The optional Upaved Strip Kit was made available for the 737-100/200 from Feb 1969. It allowed aircraft to operate from gravel, dirt or grass strips. After 40 years the final 737-200 aircraft in the U.S. flying scheduled passenger service were phased out in March 2008. In Canada, Air North, Air Inuit, and First air are still using gravel-kit equipped 737-200s for some destinations. But the 737-200 is on its last legs—almost all airlines in the world have phased it out.
All of Alaska’s destinations are now paved. The airports in all directions from Dawson City are paved: Inuvuk, Norman Wells, Watson Lake, Whitehorse. The Yukon Government has itself recognized the need for airport improvement at Dawson City, publishing a detailed needs assessment document in Dec-13.
The Dawson City airport received comparatively low ratings from the Yukon Government’s survey on how well the airport meets the needs of the leisure traveler.
The Yukon Chamber of Commerce has endorsed a paved runway. The current runway length and surface deter air traffic and tourism. The 737-200 aircraft is nearing the end of its operational life and it is the only large aircraft capable of landing at Dawson’s gravel airstrip.
The Dawson City airport needs a lengthened paved runway and an upgraded terminal building. The status quo limits tourism and hampers economic growth of the community.