Saskatchewan’s aviation industry is meeting in Prince Albert today.

At issue is a new report which stakes out the economic impact aviation has on Saskatchewan.

According to the study, there are 147 airports in the province, most of which exist on annual budgets of less than $100,000.

The aviation industry contributes $825 million to Saskatchewan’s GDP, while employing around 700 people.

Dennis Baranieski is a vice-president with West Wind Aviation and a director with the Saskatchewan Aviation Council.

Baranieski says there is a glaring need for upgrades to many airports — and he is hoping this report prompts government to step up to the table:

“Primarily, northern Saskatchewan needs some additional funding.  They need some support for infrastructure repairs, lengthening of runways, resurfacing of runways — things that really will meet the demands of newer-generation aircraft that are coming about that need this type of infrastructure to operate.”

Senator Pamela Wallin was one of the speakers at today’s conference.

Wallin says she is keenly aware of how popular Saskatchewan is becoming for out-of-province workers:

“I fly into this province almost every week.  And the planes are jammed, there’s never enough room, there’s waiting lists and long lines because this has become such a huge centre of activity.”

Meantime, Wallin is working on a Senate report that is examining the regulatory structure airports are governed under and whether changes are needed.