OTTAWA: The Port Hawkesbury Municipal Airport will experience its first major expansion in several years this coming summer, with three Inverness County natives directly involved in the new ownership group setting up shop at the Port Hastings facility over the coming weeks.

Celtic Air Services Limited (CASL), operated by Margaree Forks native David Morgan, has signed a letter of intent with the Town of Port Hawkesbury to lease airport property for a new jet reception centre, including a new office and reception area along with 150,000 extra feet of additional hangar space. In doing so, Morgan and his CASL colleagues are hoping to launch what the company president describes as a “white-glove, concierge-style experience” for customers landing at the airport, beginning this summer.

“When they come in, we’re literally going to roll out the red carpet – although I’m not sure if we’re going to have a red carpet or if there’s a Cape Breton tartan on it,” Morgan remarked.

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“Folks are looking for the top level of service. We really want to have the facilities for them to get off their aircraft and get inside and have a cold drink, sit down, relax, have their e-mail, whatever the case might be… We’re just rolling out an upscale version of our Cape Breton hospitality.”

Hoping to accommodate an increasing volume of business-driven flights and tourist traffic at the airport located just outside of the Port Hastings Rotary, as well as customers heading to the Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf clubs in Inverness, Morgan and his partners are optimistic about launching their new ground service amenities as early as June 1.

“It’s sort of like being shot out of a cannon,” said Morgan, who noted that the first round of work will get underway shortly after CASL finalizes its formal contract with the town.

“The immediate steps after that are going to be construction steps as we put in place a temporary fueling system and relocate and expand the current fueling system. We have new equipment going in there, and new quality assurance procedures to stay on top of the fuel business. Shortly after that, we’ll have our actual building – or lounge – coming in, and then we’re going to be rocking and rolling.”

In the meantime, Morgan – who graduated from the now-defunct flight school at the Margaree airstrip and made his first familiarization flight from the Port Hawkesbury Municipal Airport – has enlisted the support of two fellow Inverness County entrepreneurs, Celtic Keys Property Management co-owners Damian MacInnis and Mitch MacDonald. The two men will take an ownership stake in CASL, with MacInnis becoming CASL’s new managing director.

“We’re really excited about the potential at the airport and anticipate some big announcements over the next few weeks, and a busy summer ahead,” said MacInnis.

The same enthusiasm is shared by Port Hawkesbury’s Deputy Mayor Trevor Boudreau, who chairs the municipal airport management committee that also includes representation from the counties of Inverness and Richmond.

“It is important that we are able to provide the services being asked for at our facility, and this new model will help us achieve that without a large public investment,” Boudreau predicted.

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Adam Cooke has been a staff writer and columnist for The Reporter since 1999. A native of L’Ardoise, Adam lives in Port Hawkesbury with his wife Cathy.