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Prince George may become first airport terminal worldwide to open cannabis retail store

Flying high at YXS takes on a new meaning
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YXS is welcoming a cannabis retail store inside the terminal, subject to City approval.

Prince George's airport has high hopes of becoming the first airport terminal in the world to host a cannabis retail store.  

In a joint press conference on Jan. 7, the Prince George Airport Authority (PGAA) announced that it is welcoming a new business partner called Copilot, who is 'pioneering cannabis for travel'.

“The company approached us in early 2020 with a proposal to open the first cannabis retail store in an airport terminal worldwide, to our knowledge,” said PGAA CEO Gordon Duke.

“We feel strongly that having Copilot here at YXS will enhance our services our other business partners provide to our passengers and the people of our region.”

The company first must obtain a business license from the City of Prince George and if granted, the plans to open a cannabis retail store at YXS later this year.

Copilot has been working with federal and provincial regulators throughout the license application process and has met every required step to operate at YXS so far. Approval of a business license from the city is one of the final steps before they can build and open their store at YXS.

Duke added that the products and services conform to all federal and provincial laws and the store will operate the same as other cannabis retail stores in Prince George

“We are really excited to partner with the YXS team and introduce Copilot to the Prince George community,” said Copilot co-founder Reed Horton.

Horton was college classmates with co-founder Owen Ritz and explained how the two bonded over travel and a desire to make the experience less stressful and more enjoyable.

“We saw an opportunity to bring a safe and simple cannabis retail experience to airports across Canada and so in 2020 we founded Copilot.We reached out to YXS later that year and have been working with the team ever since to bring our store to Prince George.”

Horton and Ritz added that Prince George is the perfect location for the company’s first store, in any airport worldwide.

“We felt Prince George was the best place to start because of the size of the airport and the community culture,” added Horton.

“We felt the airport was large enough to have enough passenger traffic and enough flights to test out the different aspects of the business model but small enough where we would develop a community feel and it wouldn’t necessarily feel like our retail store was in a sea of other stores or that it was an overwhelming experience for other passengers given that is a very new concept.”

The store itself would be located before security so it would not just be limited to travellers, and Reed explained the experience could be similar to both airport liquor stores and bars.  

However, Duke noted the airport will remain a smoke-free environment with the exception of designated smoking areas.

“We are looking at designating a separate cannabis area for combustible consumption.”

The first and second readings of Copilot’s application will be heard at Prince George City Council’s Jan. 10 meeting.

“If all goes as plans we are opening the first cannabis retail store in an airport right here in Prince George this summer,” said Ritz.