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'Close to-full restoration': Calgary airport visitors, income take off after pandemic lows

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‘After years of resilience, it is time for a renaissance at YYC,’ stated airport authority CEO Bob Sartor

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The Calgary Worldwide Airport has pulled up from its pandemic-driven nosedive as passenger numbers and income totals soar towards pre-COVID ranges.

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Canada’s fourth busiest airport is making important headway in shifting past the turbulence brought on by restrictions on journey by means of the pandemic, in line with the Calgary Airport Authority’s 2022 annual report. Airport officers, who attended its 2023 annual normal assembly on Wednesday, referred to as it a “near-full restoration.”

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“After years of resilience, it’s time for a renaissance at YYC,” stated outgoing airport authority CEO Bob Sartor, who’s set handy the reins to Chris Dinsdale later this yr. “In 2022, we didn’t simply rebuild to return to the place we have been. We went above and past to go additional sooner or later.”

The airport introduced in 14.5 million passengers in 2022, a 128 per cent enhance over 2021’s 6.3 million — and simply 3.5 million travellers wanting 2019’s report 18 million.

“From close to shutdown to development in practically all areas of the enterprise, it’s clear that YYC’s success could be attributed to the grit of the airport’s individuals, who’re on the coronary heart and centre of all of it,” stated board chair Matthew Heffernan. “Our restoration expands past passenger statistics. It’s about a lot extra.”

Whereas forecasts plot YYC’s passenger draw for 2023 at 17.5 million, Sartor stated that primarily based on first-quarter outcomes, there’s a possible the airport may exceed 2019’s record-setting benchmarks. That aim can be aided by WestJet’s designation of Calgary as its world connecting hub final fall, which officers stated will enhance passengers by means of YYC by greater than 20 per cent beginning this yr.

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“This transfer will create new routes between North America, Europe and Asia out of our metropolis,” Sartor stated. WestJet has introduced plans so as to add continuous flights this yr from YYC to Tokyo, Barcelona, Edinburgh, Austin, Detroit, Chicago O’Hare and Washington Dulles.

Bob Sartor with the Calgary Airport Authority speaks with media at the Calgary International Airport on Wednesday, April 26, 2023.
Bob Sartor with the Calgary Airport Authority speaks with media on the Calgary Worldwide Airport on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. Gavin Younger/Postmedia

Calgary airport revenues double in 2022

YYC additionally practically doubled its 2021 income of $216 million, hitting $416 million in 2022 — simply $16 million shy of 2019 — bolstered largely by focuses on business enhancements and elevated airport enchancment charges as extra individuals flowed by means of the airport. Income this yr is forecasted to surpass pre-pandemic ranges, hitting $452 million and surpassing the $500 million mark by 2025.

“We stated goodbye to the pandemic and whats up to a a lot brighter future,” stated Sartor. “Our airport transitioned to near-full restoration — approach past what may have been predicted.”

The most important capital venture on the docket for the airport stays the reconstruction of the growing old west runway, which is slated to be totally eliminated and changed by 2025 at a complete price of round $200 million. The airport obtained a grant of $57.5 million from the federal authorities for the venture, however as a result of inflationary will increase in development prices, it’s searching for additional funding from Ottawa and the provincial authorities.

“It’s a really outdated (runway); parts of it are 60 years outdated. It actually solely has just a few extra years of life left,” stated Sartor. “We’re actually at a two-runway airport throughout our peak intervals. We’d like each of these runways. So, it’s not a query of claiming ‘We’re not going to do it.’ We now have to, to maintain our enterprise.”

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Whereas not outlined within the annual report, Sartor touched on native and provincial governments’ discussions of three rail tasks centred on connections to the airport. Concepts of a Calgary-to-Edmonton connection, a Calgary-to-Banff connection and a hyperlink to the town’s LRT system through the Blue Line have all gained steam these days — the latter most lately being raised by Premier Danielle Smith.

“It’s less than the airport to make the choice . . . This needs to be a neighborhood choice that’s been made by the town and the province in one of the best pursuits of Calgarians and the province,” stated Sartor. “We’re not going to be the motive force — and we shouldn’t be the motive force — however we’re very supportive.”

Dinsdale will take over as CEO in August. In his final AGM as head of the airport authority, Sartor stated he’s excited concerning the arrival of his successor.

“I’m actually excited for the following 4 or 5 years as a result of I believe individuals see some fairly meteoric development,” he stated.

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Twitter: @michaelrdrguez


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