Hope Air flies all over Canada, but their favourite airport last year was Prince George.
Hope Air covers travel costs for people in financial need who have to fly for medical treatment. They touch lives in all corners of Canada, use airlines and airports large and small, and they paid the Prince George facility a special honour on Thursday night.
"Hope Air awarded its annual Outstanding Philanthropist Award for a member of the Canadian Airports Council (CAC) to Prince George Airport Authority as part of the annual CAC conference in Vancouver," said Hope Air spokesperson Morgan Bailey. "The Hope Air Outstanding Philanthropist Award recognizes a member of the CAC with a proven record of exceptional generosity and which, through either direct financial support or in-kind donations, has demonstrated outstanding civic and charitable responsibility."
Part of the gratitude to YXS from Hope Air is rooted in the airport's annual golf tournament that has provided the program with more than $25,000 over recent years. The Airport Authority also donates advertising space to Hope Air inside the airport to help educate travellers about the charity's mission.
In 2014 alone, more than 1,000 flights were arranged to and from Prince George Airport for Hope Air clients. The majority of these flights were for treatment in Vancouver, but clients also flew from Prince George to Alberta and other British Columbia cities for vital medical care, according to the organization's statistics.
"Prince George is one of the most frequently used departure airports by Hope Air clients," said Hope Air executive director Doug Keller-Hobson. "The fundraising the Airport Authority does directly impacts many residents of Northern British Columbia. The donated airport ad space helps build awareness for Hope Air, and encourages others to be philanthropic. Without this support, we would not be able to arrange nearly as many flights as we do from the Prince George Airport."
John Gibson, president and CEO of the Prince George Airport Authority, was present at the conference and accepted the award on behalf of the company.
"We are absolutely honoured Hope Air chose us as the recipient of this great award," said Gibson. "I am accepting this award on behalf of the Prince George Airport, but it really belongs to our entire airport community who continues to support this great cause. Hope Air is a charity very close to our hearts and we are all very fortunate this service is available. We are incredibly humbled and this pushes us even further to raise even more money for those needing out-of-town medical attention."