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Canada’s Airports — Generating Jobs Across the Country

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 airport authorities under a not-for-profit model where all revenues are reinvested back into airport operations and capital expenditures.

“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 community-based boards is admired by jurisdictions around the globe.”

Airports have 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.”

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 $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 currently all operate on a not-for-profit basis. 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’ Tax Contributions

Passenger Flow

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