Lines crossed between Celtic Air and NSP

PORT HASTINGS: The Strait of Canso Transmission Crossing has the president of one local company wishing his business could have done more for the project.

In a Facebook post, David Morgan of Celtic Air Services Limited said he would have liked the Port Hawkesbury Airport to store and refuel the heavy lift helicopters used by Erickson Air Cranes, the company NSPI contracted to build the tower.

“The difference between having Nova Scotia Power take fuel at the Port Hawkesbury Airport or not is literally the difference between whether Nova Scotia Power and Erickson Air Cranes want to support a small local business or not,” Morgan said. “It’s also the difference between funding new infrastructure at our airport or not, and it could be the difference between us being able to pay the power bill in January or not.”

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Morgan spoke to The Reporter last week, and he stressed that he understands business decisions have to make financial sense for all parties. He said taking the matter to social media wasn’t meant to be provocative, and he hopes that his business and Erickson can still do business. As it stands, the heavy lift helicopter operates out of a woodlot on the Auld’s Cove side of the Causeway.

“We’re disappointed we’re not selling them fuel and looking after their aircraft. It’s a huge loss for us this time of year,” he said. “There’s not a lot of traffic, and we were really planning on it.

“This translates directly to food on the table for our team,” he said. “We’re right at the end of our season, and keeping our folks employed year round is really important to us.

“It impacts all the local businesses that we use as well.”

Tiffany Chase, Senior Communications Advisor for Nova Scotia Power, said the company is proud to say they’ve engaged over 20 local contractors, suppliers and consultants in building the tower “and that’s at a value in excess of $5 million in the local community.”

“We strive to hire local whenever it makes sense for us to do so, and that’s why we’ve engaged those 20 local contractors and suppliers,” she said. “That includes Celtic Air Service as well. Specifically, we’ve engaged them for refueling and the storage of a smaller helicopter.

“People may have seen the larger heavy lift helicopter that we started using last week, but we also have a smaller helicopter that we use for other parts of the tower assembly. For that smaller helicopter, we are happy to use Celtic Air for the refueling and storage.”

The decision to have the heavy lift helicopter not use the local airport deals with logistics as well as finance, Chase said. She noted that federal safety regulations state the helicopter must not cross any public roads while it has what’s called a ‘live load’ unless traffic is stopped.

“If we were to fly out of the Port Hawkesbury Airport, we’d have to cross three public roads instead of one,” she said. “We’d have to stop public traffic on three separate roadways in tandem to get to and from the site.”

Although Morgan would have liked to have the heavy lift helicopter use Celtic Air Services, he noted that the summer season was very positive at the airport. The amount of litres of gas sold during the summer was up 46.1 per cent over last year’s numbers.

“It’s hard not to be excited about that,” Morgan added.