Airport numbers climbing
By STEPHEN LLEWELLYN
Published Tuesday May 29th, 2007
Appeared on page A1
The Fredericton International Airport saw 247,426 passengers pass through the newly renovated terminal in 2006, an 8.3 per cent increase over the previous year.
"This is above the national average and it is good, strong passenger growth," said David Innes, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Fredericton Airport Authority at the annual meeting Monday.
Traffic at the airport is up 25 per cent in the past three years, he said.
"I think the growth in traffic is really related to the growth in the economy in the Fredericton area," said Innes. "Fredericton is booming.
"As long as the economy remains in good, solid shape, I think the air-traffic growth probably will continue."
Since 2001, there has been $30 million in investment in new infrastructure at the Fredericton International Airport.
That includes a new departure lounge that has reduced line ups at the security check because it's "so comfortable," said Innes.
Because of modern comfort levels, he said, people check in early and don't try to rush through security at the last minute.
That has reduced flight delays from late boarding, said Innes.
The multimillion dollar investment also includes the new 8,500-square foot Pavilion - which was finished in 2006 - and in which the annual meeting was held.
Innes said the airport welcomed two new air service providers recently, including the highly successful launch of Air Transat Vacation's direct winter flights to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, in 2006 and the Sunwing 2007 service to Holguin, Cuba.
"The planes basically operated full for the entire season," he said about the Air Transat flights.
That is reflected in airport travel statistics.
Passenger traffic in January 2006 was up 17 per cent compared to the same month in 2005, said Innes.
In February 2006, passenger traffic was up 24.3 per cent, he said.
"Our objective is to look for another (southern) destination next year," he said. "Certainly we have the facilities here now so that we can accommodate the big airplanes."
Financially, he said, 2006 was a good year for the airport.
"We ended up the year in the black," said Lyle Smith, chairman of the airport authority's board of directors.
It had a profit of $529,080 on revenues of $5,573,290.
In 2005, the airport had revenue of $5,445,422 and profits of $148,075.
According to the airport authority's financial statement, long-term debt fell from $264,638 in 2005 to $243,518 in 2006.
Innes said the two biggest challenges in the next few years will be attracting new domestic flights and developing the airport's aerospace and defence business park.
At the top of the airport wish list is a direct flight from Fredericton to Ottawa.
"We actively promote that on a fairly regular basis with anyone who has an airplane," said Innes.
He said he thinks that goal will be achieved in the next few years.
Innes also said that with billions of dollars in industrial regional benefits connected with defence, the time is right for the Fredericton International Airport's aerospace and defence business park to take off.
The airport has about 1,000 acres of space available for such development.
"I would hope and I sincerely believe that in the next 12 months we are going to see some development," he said.
"We are talking to a number of companies."