Green Airports

Nearly all new construction these days at Canada’s airports are done through an environmental lens. Sustainable development is incorporated in planning processes in every day activities.

For example, the Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) recently invested $277 million to revamp its airport to respond to passenger growth, as well as to find ways to make the airport as energy efficient as possible. Geothermal energy is now the main energy source for the terminal building, helping it to avoid using over 200,000 cubic metres of natural gas each year.

Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport

The lighting system for the new international terminal is equipped with light intensity sensors, ensuring the lighting adapts to the level of natural light available. Heat is also being recovered, and controls are in place to optimize fresh air intake. These measures along with others is expected to result in a reduction of 5,583 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

The airport’s ongoing efforts to reduce emissions resulted in the airport being awarded Level 2 Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA).

“Like other airports across Canada, Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport started the ACA process in the fall of 2017 with the intention of being recognized for environmentally sound management,” said Gaëtan Gagné, president and chief executive officer of the airport. “This accreditation shows our continued commitment to limiting emissions related to our own energy consumption. We intend to position ourselves among the leading Canadian airports in the fight against climate change.”

ACA is a program developed by Airports Council International (ACI) Europe that provides a standardized, independent method for airports to define and promote their CO2 emissions management and reduction efforts. Accreditation recognizes efforts made towards control and reduction of an airport’s carbon footprint. There are four levels of certification: mapping (Level 1), reduction (Level 2), optimization (Level 3) and neutrality (Level 3+).

Ten airports in Canada have achieved certification so far. The Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport, for example, has reached Level 3. The airport is using more energy-efficient equipment by airlines, such as preconditioned-air (PCA) and ground power units (GUP). The airport also greened 70 per cent of its taxi fleet, added charging stations for electric vehicles, and introduced an electric-taxi service.

“As a socially responsible business, Aéroports de Montréal strives to minimize the impact of its activities on the environment,” said Philippe Rainville, president and chief executive officer of Aéroports de Montréal.  All expansion and modernization projects include an energy-efficiency improvement component. It’s important to balance development of services, and the protection of the environment.”

Most airports in Canada have integrated Environmental Management Systems (EMS) or Environmental Management Programs (EMP) in place that address aeronautical noise, air and water quality, emissions, hazardous materials and recycling which endorses carbon management and the reduction of emissions.

The Vancouver International Airport’s EMP presents four strategic priorities that contain ambitous goals to reduce emissions by 33 per cent from 2012 levels. As of 2016, the airport reduced its emissions by 20 per cent. The airport has promoted alternative forms of transportation and upgraded its fleet, and improved airport infrastructure, reducing fossil fuel consumption.

“Greenhouse gas emissions is a key criteria when evaluating major projects,” says Craig Richmond, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver Airport Authority. “We always seek to improve our performance because we care about the environment and our place in it.”

The airport recently won the Environmental Management Award at ACI-NA’s Airports@Work conference in New Orleans in March. As part of the airport’s 2015-2019 EMP, a strategic goal was identified to divert 50 per cent of total waste from the landfill by 2020. The airport supplemented long-standing recycling programs with community engagement initiatives, and installed a centralized food court sorting station. This organic waste recycling program dramatically increased their waste diversion, resulting in 51 per cent waste diversion by the end of 2016.

Canada’s airports are leaders in sustainability and sound environmental management. The Vancouver International Airport, among other airports across this country, will continue reduce waste, potable water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and improve ecosystem health, because it is the right thing to do.


Passengers warned to expect longer government lines at airports this summer

Summer is a time when millions of Canadians take to the skies for summer vacations and the country welcomes a significant influx of international visitors. Canada’s airports have prepared, but a lack of government resources to support security screening and border crossing means millions of travellers will wait longer at airports.

Airports are the first and last impression that visitors have of our country. Airports also facilitate trade and support incredible economic development. Airports are gateways to facilitating potential for the hundreds of thousands employed in the growing Canadian tourism sector. They make our communities more attractive to businesses looking to invest and create jobs — some 194,000 direct jobs at airports and hundreds of thousands more throughout the economy.

Canada’s airports have seen massive passenger growth in recent years. Canadian airports worked with other service providers to bring in more than 11.3 million travellers from the U.S. and overseas last year, which is 7.3 per cent higher than the year before.

Airports promote connectivity and have invested more than $9.1 billion in the last five years alone into infrastructure and process improvements to get travellers and their

bags through safely and comfortably. However, the experience at security screening and at border crossings is degrading the impact of these investments, with millions of passengers unhappily waiting in long lines.

With the launch of Transportation 2030, Transport Minister Marc Garneau declared in 2016 that he would improve the traveller experience and introduce better security screening service standards to reduce lineups and delays. He also promised to address the consumers’ “frustration at the cost of air travel within Canada.” With the busy summer almost here, travellers are still waiting to see concrete action.

Reporting to the Minister of Transport, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) is the crown corporation that screens passengers at 89 airports. It receives funding from the government with the objective of screening 85 per cent of passengers in 15 minutes. The problem with this is that it is well below internationally competitive standards and thousands of travellers wait up to an hour at peak travel times. The same is true at border crossings at Canada’s largest airports.

Canada’s largest airports have been “topping up” CATSA with their own funds, but even with this cash infusion, passengers are waiting too long, and there’s a fear this summer will be even worse.

Bill C-49 will formalize the ability of airports to pay for CATSA labour screening hours and equipment. While airports welcome this business flexibility, they’re left wondering why they should bear this added cost for security screening when governments are already collecting an Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC) from passengers. Any additional costs transferred from government to airports must be passed on to users, including travellers; meaning, passengers will be paying twice and still end up in long lines.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is facing similar challenges processing the growing number of international arriving passengers at our largest airports. Too often, after a long international flight, passengers are greeted by a lengthy wait to be processed by CBSA, sometimes being kept aboard aircraft because of full customs halls.

Airports have invested $40 million in the past six years in border automation and infrastructure changes to facilitate the smoother and more efficient processing of passengers.  This includes initiatives such as the $6 million invested by Aéroports de Montréal last summer to improve border processes for arriving and connecting passengers and the millions of dollars Class 1 airports have invested in Primary Inspection Kiosks.

While airports are making these investments, government resources for CBSA and CATSA should also keep pace with passenger growth if Canadian airports are to remain competitive.

Without additional government resources for airport security screening and border crossings, Canadians and visitors to Canada can expect to wait in long line ups this summer. This is not the promise that Minister Garneau made in 2016, and it’s definitely not the experience airports want for travellers.

Behind the numbers: why airports matter

Canada’s airports have been one of this country’s great economic and policy success stories.  Before 1990, airports were a blot of red-ink on the federal balance sheet, costing Canadian taxpayers $135 million a year (a quarter of a billion dollars in today’s currency). Today, not only have airports contributed more than $5.6 billion in rent to federal coffers since 1992, and $6.9 billion in taxes annually, they have also invested more than $22 billion in new infrastructure, without costing taxpayers.

The Canadian Airports Council’s (CAC) report on airports’ economic impact sheds new light on the sector’s performance, showing a clear and continuous upward trend in passenger growth, employment, contributions to GDP, economic outputs and more.

The numbers are impressive: in 2016, Canada’s airports handled over 140 million passengers, up an incredible 112 per cent from 1988, directly contributing $48 billion in economic output, $19 billion in GDP, 194,000 jobs and $13 billion in wages.  These are big amounts – almost too big to get your head around. But if you peel off some of the zeros, a very compelling story emerges.

Averaged out, a million passengers move through Canada’s airports roughly every two and a half days. That means that for every 63 hours, airports directly create 1,400 full time jobs, and generate $137 million in GDP and $50 million in taxes.

Here’s another way to look at it: For every 1,000 aircraft take-offs and landings at Canada’s airports, about 30 jobs are required, generating $3 million in GDP and $1 million in taxes for all levels of government. With 140 million movements a year, it adds up quickly.

And that’s only the direct impacts — when indirect and induced data are included, the total impacts jump to $79 billion in economic output, $35 billion in GDP, 355,000 jobs, and $22 billion in wages.

But numbers don’t tell the whole story. By enabling the movement of people and goods to destinations in Canada and around the world, airports have an important role to facilitate economic and social opportunity – sometimes in unexpected ways.

Everyone knows that the Toronto Pearson International Airport is an international hub that connects Canadians to the world. But people may not realize how that connectivity embraces the rest of Canada. For example, flights from and to Toronto-Pearson allows entrepreneurs in Prince Edward Island to reach Asian markets, to promote not only the ever-popular Anne of Green Gables and lucrative high-end tourism, but also the island’s 1000-person strong aerospace sector. Hubbing through Toronto also gives 500 students from India (the fastest growing market in Canada for international students) the opportunity to get a quality education in Canada.

Along the same lines, many people may not know that the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport is home base for First Air, facilitating the movement of more than 19.4 million kilos of cargo freight to Canada’s Arctic communities, including food, mail, medical supplies and other critical goods.

Airports’ economic contributions are impressive, but even more impressive is their importance in supporting and enhancing opportunities for all Canadians – and Canadian businesses.

An excellent example is Avigilon Corporation, a Vancouver-based high-tech company with an international clientele. James Henderson, president and chief executive officer, explained the airport’s central role: “We ship a massive amount of product throughout the globe: tens of thousands of units moving in and out every month. And as a company we need to be sure that as we continue to scale (up), that we are close to the resources we need such as the Vancouver International Airport to help support that scale.”

Whether you look at airports’ direct contributions to the economy, or look beyond to their role as an economic catalyst, there is no question that Canada’s airports are an engine that drives jobs, wealth and opportunity for all.  Canada’s airport system should be seen as a source of pride and opportunity for all Canadians. Airports benefit everyone, even those who may never board a plane.


A Consultative Approach for Capital Investment at Canada’s Airports

YYC Calgary International Airport

Last fall, the YYC Calgary International Airport launched an industry-leading facility that recycles glycol.

The facility transforms used de-icing fluid into a reusable product, providing both environmental and economic benefits.

While this is a great environmental initiative, one of the key things to take from this, is the airport’s close collaboration with the airlines. In fact, the de-icing facility is owned by Calgary Glycol Facility Corporation, a consortium of airlines, making it the first-airline owned facility of this kind in Canada.

“This is a great example of how the airline community at YYC collaborated to invest in infrastructure and an innovative Canadian-based technology to ensure its operations are environmentally sustainable,” said Geoffrey Tauvette, director of environment and fuel at WestJet, in a news release.

This is just one example of the work airports do to ensure business decisions reflect the needs of stakeholders, specifically airlines. Before decisions are made, airports conduct comprehensive and meaningful consultation and engagement initiatives through public meetings and events, one-on-one briefings, surveys, social media outreach as well as community and airline consultative committees. Airports often align their investments based on the changing needs of their stakeholders.

They refurbish runways, purchase ground power units to supply power to aircraft, install pre-conditioned units at gates to help airlines save money on fuel, and invest in initiatives to improve the flow of passengers.

Halifax Stanfield International Airport

For example, Halifax Stanfield International Airport is currently undertaking a Passenger Processing Terminal Expansion project to provide additional passenger screening capacity, additional retail concession space and additional gate seating capacity based on projected passenger growth.

The Montreal-Trudeau International Airport recently completed the expansion of the international jetty, and refurbished one of its runways. It worked in partnership with the Canada Border Services Agency last summer to develop a connections centre and added automated terminals and inspection lines to shorten lineups at the border.

At Toronto Pearson International Airport, it consults and seeks airline endorsement for all projects over $50 million. One recent example is the Terminal 3 Enhancement Program. The renovation of Terminal 3 resulted in improved capacity for passenger flow, introduced new and refreshed facilities and retail offerings to better meet the needs of airport users today and in the future.  In advance of projects of this magnitude, it engaged with our airline community through the Technical Sub-Committee of the Airline Consultative Committee. It is through this forum that Toronto Pearson seeks input and feedback on projects and programs and presents its annual capital program to the airline community.

Vancouver International Airport

The Vancouver International Airport’s 2037 master plan accommodates growth in passenger, aircraft and cargo volumes, and looks at how the needs of stakeholders and communities will be met in the future. While the master plan involves multi-year planning and consultations, the airport recently developed a more in-depth approach to consulting with airlines early and often in the process. The approach involves a number of steps.

Once there is a recast of a long-term capital plan, the airport presents a business plan to the airlines that includes costs, scope of work, construction period, airline payments, and a breakdown of revenues such as airport improvement fees, among other details.

Once airlines have been consulted, an agreement is sought by way of a majority in interest vote (66 per cent based on passenger volume). After about 30 per cent of the design is completed, the airport develops a report justifying the project, as well as a detailed costing and risk assessment.

Comparisons are made of the capital expenditure budget and the amount in the capital plan to ensure the project remains within the amounts contained in the long-term projections. This report is presented to the airlines for consultation and endorsement, at which point, another vote would happen.

Involving stakeholders early and often in the process is common for Canadian airports, and demonstrates the airport industry’s commitment to be transparent in its capital planning.

Canada’s airports will continue to work in harmony with local stakeholders to support the needs of travellers now and into the future.

Locally managed and community-based: Dispelling myths about airports

If you’re like most Canadians, you probably believe that your airport is managed by the federal or provincial government or even a profit-making business.  In fact, a recent poll by Nanos Research showed that only 10 per cent of Canadians know that Canada’s largest airports are operated by local airport authorities – people who work and live in your community.

Airports are community assets – literally.  Not only are they critical parts of Canada’s transportation network – a fact recognized by 98 percent of Canadians – they are also major contributors to local economies, facilitating commerce and directly injecting 194,000 jobs and $48 billion to Canada’s economy annually.

According to Nanos, most Canadians appreciate that airports have value beyond being a place to wait for flights.  But, the poll also reveals that there is room to improve our general understanding of airports, and by extension, enhance the relationship between airports and residents.

Does it matter? I think it does. For example, if you believe that your airport is run by government – a view shared by 51 per cent of Canadians – then you may also believe that it receives tax subsidies.

The truth is that Canadian airports receive no operational subsidies.  Federal  dollars are not used to run airports. In fact, airports are taxpayers themselves, remitting an estimated seven billion dollars to federal, provincial and municipal governments every year.

Beginning in 1992, the federal government decided to turn over airport management to local authorities, based on the idea that airports would be run most effectively by those who have the greatest stake in their success – the people who live and work in the area.

The government made the right call.  In 1990, airports were a red blot on Canada’s balance sheet, costing taxpayers $135 million a year – almost a quarter of a billion in today’s currency. Fast forward to 2018, airport authorities are not only taxpayers, but they are astute and prudent financial managers.  Any profits (excess of revenues over expenses) are reinvested into improving services to the travelling public or reducing rates and charges.  Canadian airports have injected more than $22 billion into capital projects and operational improvements in virtually every region of the country, increasing access, enhancing safety and efficiencies and improving the travel experience.

The fact that airports are important to Canada is not a secret.  The survey confirms that, for the most part, the vast majority of people – about 90 percent — understand that their airports contribute to their local economies.  But, while impressions of airports and their role remain positive, the intensity of positive impressions and impressions of importance have generally decreased over time.

This trend is unfortunate, but I can surmise why it’s happening: the poll also demonstrates that people think their overall travel experience has been getting worse, with concerns including the cost of travelling out of one’s area airport, followed by long wait times at security checkpoints, a lack of flight options, cancelled or delayed flights, long wait times at customs and, finally, aircraft noise. It is conceivable that these impressions could cast a shadow on people’s overall perceptions of airports.

Ironically, airports often have little or no direct control over many of these issues.  But, they have a role in addressing them.  Airports are at the centre of a complex machine with many moving parts and many divergent interests: airlines, security, customs, air traffic control, and of course, passengers.

They are in constant communication with their partners and clients, as well as with community-based groups to work together to attract new services and routes, find efficiencies and cost savings, and, at the same time, ensure that they are responsive and responsible members of the community.

An airport is not located in the centre of town, but it is certainly in the heart of the area’s economic and social well-being.  You may not think of your airport as a community asset in the same way as a hospital, park, library or hockey arena, but, given how much they impact your quality of life, perhaps it’s time to begin.

Working together: How regional airport networks can grow access and opportunity

Toronto Pearson International Airport

Growth is good – it’s something we all strive for. But what is the right strategy when on the horizon, your growth is starting to near your capacity? You bring together a group of airports to find solutions together.

That’s the idea behind the Southern Ontario Airport Network (SOAN), a network of the 11 most commercially significant airports between Kingston and Windsor.  Southern Ontario is not only Canada’s most populous region, it’s essential to Canada’s prosperity, accounting for over a third of the economy, almost 40 per cent of exports, and home to several Fortune 500 corporations, 15,000 high-tech companies and 28 universities and colleges.

As the fastest growing region in the county, Southern Ontario will continue to be an engine of Canada’s economy, but it will require long-term, high-quality air access into and out of the region. The growth in demand and diversity of air service needs requires that the region and stakeholders think differently about how to support these needs.

CAC’s president, Daniel-Robert Gooch explained that with international passenger travel expected to reach 7.2 billion annually by 2035 worldwide, many countries are looking to some form of airport network to manage capacity. However, he emphasized that the SOAN is taking its own “made-in-Canada” approach, respecting local communities’ needs and goals, and retaining each airport’s decision-making autonomy.

“The network is not prescriptive in any way” said Chris Wood, general manager of the Region of Waterloo International Airport.  “It simply allows everyone to plan on a regional basis, rather than trying to deal with problems in isolation.  At the end of the day, the SOAN accommodates the reality that passengers will still want to go where they want to go, and communities will need what they need.”

Region of Waterloo International Airport

But there is no doubt that a capacity milestone is looming. “Our forecast tells us that by 2043, aviation demand in this region will be around 110 million passengers,” said Howard Eng, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.  “When we look at the current capacity amongst airports in the region, we could be leaving millions of passengers ‘on the table’ if we don’t take action. Thankfully, we have a network of great airports that have come together to start brainstorming ways to capitalize on this incredible opportunity.”

And it’s these opportunities that keep all the airports engaged and active around the table.  The group, which includes Toronto Pearson International Airport, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Hamilton John C. Munro International Airport, Kingston/Norman Rogers Airport, Lake Simcoe Regional Airport, London International Airport, Oshawa Executive Airport, Niagara District Airport, Peterborough Airport, Region of Waterloo International Airport, and Windsor International Airport, has already identified a number of ways that their communities, region and the country could prosper using a regional strategy.

The SOAN will allow member airports to plan on an unprecedented scale and continue to be strong economic facilitators for their local communities — whether it be tourism in the Niagara region, the high-tech sector in Waterloo or executive air services in Oshawa. The network also provides an opportunity to grow demand and raise awareness of the many airport choices passengers and businesses have to meet their air service needs.

With the region’s airports supporting more of the demand for air services — from passenger to corporate aviation flights, flight school and training to aircraft maintenance — resources at Canada’s largest airport could be freed up to support its evolution into North America’s next Mega Hub airport. This would provide the region and country with connectivity, similar to what is being offered by other major international airports around the world including London Heathrow, Dubai and Singapore.

The creation of a Canadian mega hub would be significant for the country, not only securing Canada’s place as a major nexus for global transportation, but as a way to build synergies for international business and trade opportunities. Every airport involved in the SOAN understands the long-term benefit for their own communities.

“The creation of the Southern Ontario Airport Network is an important step in the evolution of airports in our region,” said Mike Seabrook, president and chief executive officer of the Greater London International Airport Authority. “The London International Airport fully supports this initiative and believes it will allow Toronto Pearson to fulfill its destiny as Canada’s mega-hub airport while better utilizing the infrastructure of airports like London. Meeting the passenger demands of our market and improving their airport experience are at the root of this initiative.”

Outside of Southern Ontario, Canada’s airports cooperate in many ways, but no one is expecting the capacity challenges in the same way as southern Ontario any time soon.  But “soon” is a relative word.  Considering that we are seeing unprecedented demand growth in virtually every region, it is likely that other Canadian airports may eventually have to take a serious look at the benefits – and necessity – of developing their own regional network.

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Airport

If you asked the average person how their airport supports their community, they may talk about economic opportunity.  They most certainly would talk about transportation.  It’s unlikely that they would think about advance voting.

But the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport did.

Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport

“At Winnipeg Airports Authority the focus is always on enhancing the customer experience. The advance polling booth was a way to help travellers exercise their democratic right, albeit in a very unique setting,” said Barry Rempel, president and chief executive officer of Winnipeg Airports Authority. “We are always looking for new ways to showcase our community and augment the travel experience.”

Helping travellers exercise their right to vote is only one of dozens of examples of how Canadian airports reach out to support and enrich their communities in ways that have little or nothing to do with travel.  The activities reflect the needs of each community, but taken together, a bigger picture begins to emerge.  It’s one of a deeply proud, engaged and uniquely Canadian airport community.

Business-speak may call it civic engagement.  Airports call it being good neighbours and friends.

And like any good neighbour, airports welcome newcomers.  Halifax’s long tradition of receiving new Canadians was given a 21st century twist when Halifax Stanfield International Airport hosted a public citizenship ceremony in its main lobby as part of Canada’s 150th celebrations.

“We were honoured to have been chosen to host this special event for Canada’s newest citizens,” said Joyce Carter, president and chief executive officer of the Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA). “We welcome new Canadians at our airport every day and we’ve come to think of the airport as the modern-day Pier 21. The ceremony provided us with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our nation’s 150th birthday and to show appreciation for our great country.”

President and CEO Joyce Carter of HIAA on the left

The ceremony struck a deep chord for at least one member of the board. “I know first-hand what a momentous day this is for these new citizens,” said Wadih Fares, HIAA chair and an order of Canada recipient who became a Canadian citizen in 1980. “I first came to Canada as a teenager when I was escaping the civil war in Lebanon. I believe strongly in celebrating the unique talents and contributions everyone brings to this country and today we celebrate these new Canadians.”

Vancouver International Airport

Canada’s airports celebrate peoples and cultures, from the newest Canadians to the first nations.  The Vancouver Airport Authority recently signed The Musqueam Indian Band – YVR Airport Sustainability & Friendship Agreement, a 30-year agreement based on friendship and respect to achieve a sustainable and mutually beneficial future for the community. The Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and the Musqueam Indian Band are located in the same community on land that is Musqueam traditional territory. Musqueam have historically played an integral role in many areas of YVR’s business and operations, from noise management and environmental advisory to development planning and cultural engagement.

“This marks the evolution of our relationship with the Musqueam people. We are proud to look ahead to a future where we continue to learn and grow together for the economic and social benefit of the region,” said President and CEO Craig Richmond of the Vancouver Airport Authority. “Being able to celebrate this new and exciting way forward with our friends is not only good for our business – it is the right way for YVR to move forward in the community we serve.”

Details of the Agreement include a path of education to employment with a number of scholarships and new jobs, one per cent of annual revenue from YVR, identification and protection of archeological resources and support for ongoing operations and long-term development at the airport.

The Flight Path at the Victoria International Airport

Other airports focus in on mental and physical well-being.

The Victoria Airport Authority knows that flying is only one way to get around and encourages residents and travellers to get healthy while experiencing the natural beauty of the Saanich Peninsula by running, walking or biking its 9.3 nature trail called the Flight Path. Combining spectacular scenery with historical sites and quiet contemplation, the airport’s Flight Path offers a unique experience for everyone.

“The Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) is one of the first airports in the world to develop this type of recreational facility,” said President and CEO Geoff Dickson. “The Flight Path is one part of our commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship that also includes, among other practices, protecting our forests, rehabilitating our airport creeks to remediate previous pollution and improve aquatic health, harvesting our farm fields and providing airport lands for play grounds and sports fields.”

Airports lift the Canadian economy and connect Canada to the world, but they are more than that: they are good neighbours and collaborative community partners.

Harmony in Motion – Jobs at Canada’s Airports

Canada’s airports are more than just places you go to take a plane to a destination. They are major contributors of jobs, both on site and in communities and throughout the country. From baggage handlers and noise management officers to marketing professionals, civil engineers and more, airports are vibrant workplaces.

“Aéroports de Montréal has 250 businesses operating on its two airport sites, which provide 60,000 jobs, including 31,600 direct jobs,” says President and CEO Philippe Rainville of Aéroports de Montreal. “We created more than 570 jobs last year alone, in part due to the significant investments made in our infrastructure to respond to growing demand, such as the expansion of Montréal-Trudeau’s international jetty and commercial areas.”

Montréal-Trudeau isn’t alone. Airports across the country are expanding to respond to an increasing number of travellers frequenting their airports. These expansion projects give employees a chance to be part of large scale undertakings.

The opening of the International Terminal Building at YYC Calgary International Airport led to the creation of almost 2,000 new jobs last year. The airport, which continues to see record growth, is a major job creator responsible for 48,000 indirect jobs for the city and creates over $8.28 billion in GDP.

“We have a community of over 24,000 on airport land, and these individuals are the key to creating an airport that is a significant economic driver for our city,” says Bob Sartor, president and chief executive officer of the Calgary Airport Authority. “As we continue to grow to meet the demands of increasing passenger numbers, adding more flights and new services, we only expect to see more job creation at YYC.”

Meanwhile, The Calgary Airport Authority itself is a team of around 250 professionals with a variety of skillsets in everything from engineering and accounting to human resources, passenger experience and more. The team is driving forward a positive passenger experience, but is also known for creating a vibrant place to work. In 2016, the Calgary Airport Authority was once again acknowledged as one of Alberta’s Top Employers by Mediacorp Canada. This is the seventh time it has been recognized for its commitment to creating one of Alberta’s best workplaces.

Airports are a one-of-a-kind place to work, and because they are growing, this creates jobs that are varied and challenging, providing employees with unique opportunities for career advancement.

Providing a competitive compensation and benefits package, as well as training opportunities, airport employees are encouraged to stay. For example, employees at the Vancouver Airport Authority, operator of the Vancouver International Airport, stay an average of 10.7 years. The airport maintains an average of 35 hours of training per person each year and has been ranked as one of BC’s Top Employers for ten years in a row.

“We recognize that an engaged and motivated team is key to our success,” says Craig Richmond, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver Airport Authority. “We take great care to create a positive working environment that rewards creativity and teamwork. We regularly identify areas for improvement, through bi-annual employee surveys and all-employee meetings, and we constantly recognize our employees’ efforts, awarding individuals who have made strong contributions to our core values of safety, innovation, teamwork and accountability.”

Beyond the direct jobs airports generate, they also provide indirect jobs that include those supported by the goods and services the airport buys for day-to-day operations, such as an auto mechanic who repairs a catering truck at a garage in the community. Jobs are also facilitated by inbound visitor spending at restaurants, stores and tourist attractions, and for accommodations and ground transportation.

Jobs are also created through foreign direct investment and trade, both of which are facilitated by the connectivity that airports provide. For example, a recent economic impact study showed that Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada’s largest airport, facilitates a total of 332,000 jobs throughout Ontario.

“The Greater Toronto Area is a world-class centre of business, tourism, innovation and education,” says President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority Howard Eng. Toronto Pearson is proud to be Canada’s doorstep to the world and a driver of significant employment opportunities for Ontarians.”

In addition to creating jobs, Toronto Pearson is inspiring its own employees to go above and beyond by going out of their way to help passengers each day. The airport has developed a movement called I am Toronto Pearson, which encourages leaders and front-line staff to ask themselves one simple question: “How can I help?”

The GTAA believes that everyone should feel empowered to make a difference, whether by providing a bit of unexpected help or welcoming newcomers to the community and the country. When such “moments of truth” are repeated countless times each day, they add up to a transformative passenger experience and move Toronto Pearson steadily closer to becoming the world’s best airport – one passenger at a time.

Providing rewarding places to work – Canada’s airports are harmony in motion – improving passenger experience, and growing and supporting jobs in their communities, while serving the needs of all Canadians.

Airports are Flying High

In the history of Canadian airports, there are two eras: before the 1990’s, and after. Why? Because in the 1990’s, Canada’s airports – once managed by the federal government – were transferred to local control under a not-for-profit model.

“Today Canada’s model is unique in the world,” says Daniel-Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council. “We were ahead of the curve. The combination of private expertise with not-for-profit, community-based boards is admired by jurisdictions around the globe.”

The airport system has never looked back, and for good reason. The benefits have been extensive.

“The current airport authority model has served Canadian air travellers very well over the past 25 years”, notes Halifax International Airport Authority President & CEO Joyce Carter. “Halifax Stanfield, for example, has seen infrastructure investments of over $550 million in the past decade, under the watchful eye of our locally-appointed Board of Directors, all directed toward increasing the airport’s economic and social contributions to our region.”

Canada’s air transport sector, of which airports are a big part, contribute $35 billion in economic activity and $7 billion in federal taxes. They have also paid $5 billion in rent to the federal government since 1992.

Beyond the numbers, airports have made an incomparable impact on building Canada into an economic powerhouse.

“Think of all the links airports enable – trade links, business links, between communities in Canada and around the world,” says Gooch. “Airports are truly Canada’s gateways to the world, connecting communities at home and abroad.”

So, what is so powerful about this uniquely Canadian, not-for-profit model? To understand success today, you must understand the struggles of yesterday. Before the 1990’s airports were centrally managed by the federal government. Operating at a significant loss, by the time airport ownership was transferred, the cost to taxpayers was a whopping $135 million per year.

Beyond the cost deficit was the infrastructure deficit. With little money to go around, infrastructure investments were few and far between. Airports aged and repairs were desperately needed.

“The airports that were transferred absolutely needed to be reinvented,” says Gooch.

Reinvention was called for, and the calls got louder and louder. It was around this time that leaders at the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade came together and said, our airport needs to be doing more for us. Vancouver was poised to be a gateway city between the Asia-Pacific and North America. To do it, they needed a better airport. How? Through local control.

Today, officials on the boards of Canadian airports are nominated by local business groups, the municipalities and provincial and federal governments. Airports operate on a not-for-profit basis, meaning every dollar of profit is reinvested back into infrastructure and the passenger experience. That’s led to $22 billion in infrastructure investment without a penny of taxpayer support.

But at the end of the day, the greatest benefit is local orientation.

“Airports have been transformed over the last couple of decades – they are now proper gateways to their communities,” says Gooch.

Airports are locally rooted like never before; every dollar made is reinvested back into the airport; and today Canadian airports are world leaders in the industry. Yes, there are two eras in the history of airports: before not-for-profit status, and after – and airports aren’t looking back. This uniquely Canadian model works for Canada, and works for Canadians who fly.

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