Serving as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Ottawa International Airport Authority is a true honour for me. As Canada’s Capital airport, our facility acts as the gateway for visiting dignitaries, for the politicians who shape our country, industry representatives engaged in business in our community and our great country, and of course the visitors who come to Ottawa-Gatineau to see our national treasures – the museums, Parliament, the numerous unique festivals and our beautiful natural resources. I’m proud to be a part of the team that brings community together with a warm welcome.
As home to the seat of Parliament, ensuring a secure operation is critical. Our security plans are reviewed and tested with the collaboration of many airport partners. Government agencies such as the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (U.S. CBP), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), coupled with local first responder partners such as the Ottawa Police Service, Ottawa Fire Services and Ottawa Paramedic Service all contribute to the peace of mind of our passengers and employees. Safety is a team effort involving every on-airport organization and each of their employees; respecting and following the airport’s safety management system is a priority and a part of everyone’s working day.
Airport authorities are officially considered not-for-profit organizations, focused on driving economic activity and growth, and increasing prosperity in the region. We are not a government agency and we do not receive government funding. We contribute to all levels of government through rent, and taxes injecting more than $2.2 billion into the region in total economic activity each year, including nearly $30.0 million in capital spending. We provide more than $100,000 to charitable projects in Ottawa-Gatineau through Project Clear Skies each year.
Ensuring that we fulfill our mandate to provide safe, secure and quality transportation services means that we are required to generate revenues to sustain and grow our operation. Our concessions, parking and other non-aeronautical revenue sources are critical for us to meet this mandate. Our success is the community’s success, so we will keep discussing the role we play and the importance of collaboration with regional organizations, City of Ottawa officials and our representatives at City Hall.
The rail link to the airport is a critical piece to ensuring our capital gateway continues to be looked upon as world class. This link will contribute to the success of the City’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) plan and I echo the message that the President and CEO, Mark Laroche, has been delivering consistently for three years – a world class city requires a world class transportation system. Such a system must be multi-modal, efficient and it must connect the airport to the city centre. If we don’t take advantage of the opportunity now, it may never happen. We are ready to contribute to the airport terminal portion of the project, and look forward to working with the City to confirm their contribution and to ensure financial support for the project from the provincial and federal governments.
While I am just closing out my first year as Chair, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Board since 2012. It’s a pleasure to be surrounded by such a talented group of professionals who bring diverse talents and skills to the Board, and is reflective of the community it represents and serves. Every member shares a commitment to good governance practices and transparency as we manage this very important public trust. I thank each and every member for sharing their time and talent for the good of the airport and the community.
An important function of the Board is to support the activities of the CEO and senior management team. The Authority faced some challenges during late summer and most of the fall, when taxi labour unrest had the potential to severely disrupt airport operations. I speak on behalf of the entire Board when I say how pleased I am with the leadership Mark showed throughout, and how his team’s attention to detail and agility during a very fluid situation ensured that the safety and security of all passengers, employees and facilities were never compromised. We were impressed with the contingency measures taken to ensure that our customers were able to find the safe and reliable transportation services they needed throughout the period.
As with all Boards, terms end and representatives change. As such, I would like to say farewell to Pat Kelly, Ottawa Tourism’s nominee, for his time and dedication to the airport during his tenure with the Board. We also extend a warm welcome to Code Cubitt who was nominated by Invest Ottawa. Code brings a wealth of private sector experience, particularly in the technology and venture capital sectors, both here and in California.
As noted above, I am very proud to be Chair of the Board and thrilled to be working with such a professional team at the Ottawa International Airport Authority, a team focused on bringing value, and making a significant contribution to the community it serves. I am involved in various boards with people in the city and across the country, and they never fail to tell me how much they love our airport, and how wonderful their travel experience is. This sentiment was driven home when we received the results of the 2015 Airport Service Quality customer service benchmarking program. Our 2nd place finish in North America put us back on the customer satisfaction podium. The rank is wonderful news, but what I’m even more delighted with is the fact that our overall score and marks in individual categories continue to improve. I extend my thanks to Mark and his team, along with everyone at the airport who makes the customer experience memorable for all the right reasons, and to our clients who take the time to provide us with meaningful feedback when they complete the survey.
I look forward to being a part of the airport’s continued evolution and to ensuring that the necessary support is in place for an outstanding team whose continued commitment to success is greatly appreciated.
Susan St. Amand,
Chair of the Board