Message from the President and Chief Executive Officer
It gives me great pleasure to discuss 2018 and the results achieved during a record-breaking year.
Growth in our passenger volumes over the past several years has been limited to the domestic segment, and it was slow and steady at best. The 5.6% jump in 2018 was long-awaited and exciting, mainly since we had the 5 million-passenger milestone anxiously in our sights all year. By the end of December, we had surpassed it, serving 5,110,801 passengers during the year. Perhaps the best news of all was that the increase was not limited to domestic passengers, but spread across Domestic, Transborder and International segments with 4.9%, 11.3%, and 2.5% growth respectively.
To mark this important milestone, we engaged the community in a campaign called Sparty on the Shelf; customers and airport employees alike had fun finding the stuffed version of Ottawa Senators’ mascot, Spartacat, throughout the airport and posting selfies on our various social channels. Congratulations to Tanya J who was our grand prize winner – we hope she escaped the seemingly never-ending winter to one of our non-stop sunshine destinations!
Reaching the 5 million-passenger mark is further support for the extensive construction program the Authority is set to embark on in 2019. We announced the YOW+ terminal enhancement program in the fall of 2018, including four pillars that represent the various projects that will transform the terminal over the next five years.
As mentioned in last year’s Annual Report, we have been looking at options for our domestic/international pre-board screening checkpoint. After careful consideration, it was determined that the best option would be to move it to Level 3 where the current food court and sit-down restaurant are situated, from its current Level 2 location. The project, which will begin in May of 2019, will start with the construction of a floor over the Gate 18 area, which will accommodate screening equipment and additional queuing space. Once completed in 2020, the ultimate solution will provide a more comfortable, efficient screening process.
In 2018, we finalized the design of a revitalized and reimagined concessions program. The redesign includes replacing the infrastructure that supports our restaurant facilities, which has been in place since the terminal opened in 2003 and is at the end of its useful life. To complete the revitalization plan, we also issued requests for proposals to the food and beverage, and retail concession trades, in search of new Master Concession partners. We encouraged the participation of local retailers and restaurateurs and hope some familiar flavours will be included in our final offering. The combined pre-board screening move and concession revitalization projects represent a $25 million investment in the terminal.
In December 2018, we announced that we had signed an agreement with Group Germain Hotels for the construction of a terminal-connected hotel under the Alt brand. Alt will offer clients unique and sought-after comfort amenities, a full-service restaurant and a level of check-in/check-out flexibility that pairs perfectly with air travel. We are very proud to be working with this highly successful Canadian company that is investing $40 million in their third Ottawa property, which is, in my opinion, a strong vote of confidence for Ottawa and the region.
Finally, we are following through on our commitment to support the airport link in Stage 2 of the City of Ottawa’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) plan. We are proceeding with plans to build an airport terminal station at the north end of the terminal, and have been working closely with the City to negotiate an agreement for the lands required to accommodate the line. In the end, we will be contributing $25 million to the project, including the total cost of the station, as well as the land value that we are donating in-kind. We will continue to collaborate to ensure that construction of the station will coincide with the completion of the airport link.
The projects I mentioned add up to more than $100 million of investment by the Authority and our partners, which is excellent news for the airport and the community.
We recognize that the projects described above will touch various areas of the terminal, and disrupt flow and process over an extended period. A key element of the YOW+ project is ensuring that any impact is minimized through effective communication and wayfinding, and by planning certain construction phases during the quiet hours. We will continue to update the YOW+ website and will post the information that matters most to our customers and stakeholders there and on our social media channels.
While the planning associated with these projects consumed a good deal of the team’s time, we accomplished much more in 2018 that you will read about in the Year in Review. I am pleased to share a few highlights here.
Efforts to attract more air service development to YOW did not diminish in 2018. Additional service to Philadelphia, Newark and Washington-Dulles by American and United respectively, helped our Transborder traffic grow. Sunwing’s introduction of Miami and Los Cabos, along with their significant service to Florida and the Caribbean helped grow our Transborder and International segments. We will continue our efforts to increase the variety of non-stop destinations served by working with our airline partners, who ultimately make the decisions where aircraft deployment is concerned.
Building on previous years’ efforts, the Authority completed the requirements for Level 3 Airport Carbon Accreditation. Level 1 involved mapping our carbon footprint, and Level 2, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from our operation. To achieve Level 3, the Authority was required to widen the scope of the carbon footprint map to include third-party emissions, and engage its partners at and around the airport and work with them to reduce their emissions. We are very proud of our level of accreditation and our wider efforts in environmental stewardship.
Security continued to be a priority – both physical and cyber. The Authority has been actively involved in engaging other airports in Canada to embrace the urgency of cybersecurity and has hosted discussions concerning events and trends that could have a profound impact on the aviation ecosystem on the cyber side. YOW initiated regular discussion with other airports and partners to share best practices and mitigation strategies. The goal is to harden the airport’s technology and systems just as we would harden our facilities and structures.
On the physical security side, as new threats such as drones operating close to our airfield occur, we remain vigilant and work with our partners in order to mitigate any impact to airport operations that these threats may cause.
On the airfield, apron renewal work was completed north of Hangar 11 to allow for more overnight aircraft parking. Reconstruction of taxiways Juliet and Echo was completed, including the installation of runway pavement sensors and a weather station system. The project to install Simplified Short Approach Lighting System approach lights and towers for Runway 14 was also finished. These projects required the closure of Runway 14/32 until early fall, and every effort was made to minimize the impact on the community caused by increased traffic on Runway 07/25.
The airside and groundside maintenance teams have had, in my opinion, one of the more challenging winters to deal with in terms of treating runways for freezing rain, snow removal, and general winter weather. With every challenge Mother Nature threw their way, they responded like the pros they are and kept aircraft and people moving throughout. Well done!
We identified these and many other projects as priorities in the Strategic Plan and Action Plan that we created, and have kept updated with the collaboration of our Board of Directors, under the leadership of Chair, Chris Carruthers. The involvement of the entire Board in this process is essential, and together, we ensure that the airport is managed responsibly, and with the community’s best interest at the forefront.
In closing, I would like to thank the Airport Authority team for their hard work and dedication. Their efforts have kept the Authority on the customer service excellence podium with another 1st place finish among airports that serve between 2 and 5 million passengers. The next five years will bring an aggressive project agenda that will require everyone’s participation and commitment if we are to remain a leader in customer satisfaction – if any team is up to the challenge, it’s the YOW team.
President and Chief Executive Officer