Fredericton International Airport posts eight per cent increase in traffic in 2016, future growth limited by outdated and undersized terminal building
Although the Fredericton International Airport Authority (FIAA) presented strong financial and traffic numbers at their 2017 Annual General Meeting, more than ten years of accommodating growth in an undersized and outdated terminal means that even the authority’s ingenuity is no longer enough to continue to keep growing within the current terminal.
Fredericton’s airport once again broke passenger traffic records in 2016, with 377,977 passengers traveling through the capital region’s airport. This represents an eight per cent (8%) increase in traffic compared to 2015, and is the seventh consecutive year of record-breaking growth.
The current terminal, however, was designed for just 200,000 passengers annually. Although it hasn’t always been comfortable for passengers, efficiency and some creativity have enabled the airport authority to continue to accommodate YFC’s growth, but they’re running short on options.
“Our partners have been fantastic – the airlines, CATSA, and everyone in the terminal have worked hard to take care of our passengers under some tough conditions,” says FIAA President and CEO, Johanne Gallant. “We continue to hear from travellers that our airport is one of the friendliest they travel through, and that’s thanks to our front-line staff – we cannot thank them enough for the tremendous service they provide. Ultimately, though, we are simply out of space.”
Businesses and organizations throughout the region have spoken out about the critical nature of the terminal expansion, including UNB, McCain, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, Ignite Fredericton, and the Atlantic Canada Salmon Foundation. Local governments have been unwavering in their support, with Fredericton, Oromocto, New Maryland, Nackawic, Regional Service Commission 11, and MP Matt DeCourcey all affirming that this expansion is needed to accommodate the existing traffic and to allow our region’s economy to continue to grow.
Growth in 2016 came from strong loads on Air Canada’s flights to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Halifax, as well as the addition of a third daily WestJet flight to Toronto in early 2016. New Brunswickers also took full advantage of the sun charters in 2016, heading to Cancun, Varadero and Holguin.
Ms. Gallant emphasized the close connection between YFC and the community during the Annual General Meeting, highlighting the economic impact of the airport’s operations as well as the airport authority’s direct support of organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick and the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival.
The meeting ended on a cautionary tone, with FIAA Board Chair, Andrew Steeves explaining that growth at the airport will stall if the terminal expansion does not begin soon. Design work has been completed by the airport authority and the project is ready to break ground when funding is confirmed. Total project cost is $30-million, and FIAA has one-third of the funding in place. The airport authority is seeking partnership from the federal and provincial governments for the remaining $20-million.
The Fredericton International Airport serves over 377,000 passengers annually and offers direct daily service to the major hubs of Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Halifax, along with seasonal service to sun destinations. Through direct, indirect and induced economic activity, YFC brings 513 jobs, $8.5-million in taxes, and $24-million in GDP to New Brunswick every year.