Growing Pains: Why the Fredericton International Airport needs a terminal expansion - Fredericton Airport
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Growing Pains: Why the Fredericton International Airport needs a terminal expansion

Posted by:
8 / 31 / 2016

Economic-Impact-Social-mediaSix years of record-breaking passenger growth. Job growth of 10 per cent every year for the past three years. A new air carrier, and a record number of direct sun destinations scheduled for next winter.

The Fredericton International Airport has seen an enviable string of success over the past six years, bringing in the air services our community needs and generating considerable economic stimulus along the way. Back in 2011 independent consultant InterVISTAS measured the airport’s impact to be 586 jobs and $24-million in GDP (including direct and indirect impacts), and we’re on track to bring 1,015 jobs and $41.5-million in GDP to New Brunswick by 2030.

A good problem to have?

As anyone who’s been here to catch a flight at peak times knows all too well, though, this success is creating some challenges.

Fredericton International Airport’s terminal building was built in the 1960’s and subsequent renovations have expanded that building to accommodate up to 200,000 passengers a year.

One of the earlier terminals.

One of our earlier terminals.

In 2015, the airport saw almost 350,000 passengers.

Passengers line up at the Fredericton International AirportOperating in an old building creates a lot of issues: we’re running out of space to accommodate new carriers, especially during the sun destination season. The heating and cooling systems are antiquated and require upgrading. Seating is limited in the departures lounge, as are food service options. There is just one security line, and no space to open a second during peak travel times.

Although the airport authority continues to work closely with our partners to make the building as efficient and comfortable as possible for our travellers and the 269 people employed at the airport, the bottom line is that our terminal is operating at 75% over the capacity it was designed to accommodate.

Sure, having too much traffic is a good problem to have, but the airport authority wants to provide an efficient, comfortable, pleasant experience for our staff, business partners, and travellers – and we know they feel the same way.

Here we grow!

Architect concept of planned terminal expansion for the Fredericton International AirportThe airport authority has completed design work for a much-needed terminal expansion, which would alleviate the current congestion and see a renovated terminal building designed to handle 500,000 passengers a year. FIAA has secured its portion of the funding for the terminal expansion project and is seeking the support of partners at the provincial and federal levels of government to secure the remainder needed.

The project is ready to go to tender, and construction would create 319 jobs.

Benefits to travellers when the project is complete include:

    • Architect concept of planned terminal expansion for the Fredericton International Airport

      Architect’s concept of interior

      Improved flow of passengers through the airport, accommodating traffic increases up to 500,000 passengers annually

    • Two security lines instead of one
    • Larger kitchen and dining area in the public area of the terminal
    • Departures area will be larger and more comfortable.
    • Food service & café area
    • Children’s play area
    • Additional seating
    • Additional washrooms
  • Shorter exterior distances to airplanes
  • More natural light

The building will also be more environmentally friendly:

  • more energy efficient
  • geothermal heating & cooling source
  • higher building envelope insulation
  • LED lighting

Architect concept of interior design for Fredericton International Airport expansion

But wait – there’s just one last hurdle…

The terminal expansion is going to cost $30-million. That’s a bargain, because instead of constructing a new terminal the authority has chosen to expand and renovate the current building, meaning that there is no construction needed to move the apron and runways.

The Fredericton International Airport Authority has been extremely well-managed financially since taking over the management and operation of the airport in 2011. As a non-share corporation, we are run like a business but all savings are re-invested in the organization. We’re able to fund one third of this project ourselves (that’s $10-million) and have already invested $2-million in the design – which is now shovel-ready.

We’re asking the provincial and federal governments to partner with us on this project, and it’s a solid investment: within six years, the governments will see their investment returned to them in the form of tax revenues. Construction alone will create 319 jobs. And the benefit to our province of having a modern airport greeting investors, tourists, and dignitaries to our capital city cannot be overstated.

Why doesn’t the Fredericton airport qualify for Federal funding?

When airports were divested in the 1990’s, 26 airports across Canada were deemed nationally significant and therefore included in the National Airport System (NAS) and the land was leased to airport authorities for operation.  The airport sizes range in traffic from Toronto Pearson with 41 million to Gander with 150,000 passengers.

There are 6 out of the 26 NAS airports in Canada that are located on federal land and have less than 525,000 passengers: London, Charlottetown, Saint John, Gander, Fredericton and Prince George.

Due to a quirk of Federal funding policies, these small NAS airports are excluded for funds that are available to other small airports.

The FIAA continues to work with our elected representatives to identify funding opportunities to enable this long overdue project to move forward, and we are confident that with their continued support we will be able to do so. We encourage our travellers to get in touch with their MP and MLA to let them know they support the Fredericton International Airport terminal expansion as well.

17 thoughts on “Growing Pains: Why the Fredericton International Airport needs a terminal expansion”

  1. Gloria Shoeman says:

    It is to everyone’s advantage to see this happen…!

    1. Judy Ingram says:

      As the capital catchment area of the Province, I would think that both the Province and the Feds could see the importance of convenient and timely travel between the seat of government and other areas of our nation.

      As for duplication of services, it is what it is. What Moncton and Saint John have should not affect what the capital area has. We’re our own area with our own needs. Nothing is more frustrating than, after a long business trip, having to travel to Saint John, Moncton or Halifax before you can get home to Fredericton.

      It would also be nice not to have to enter and exit the terminal in the rain/snow.

  2. Kevin says:

    Long over due just the useage from DND Alone is massive

    1. It’s always a pleasure to have members of our military travelling through YFC, and with the terminal operating 75% over capacity we agree – this expansion is long overdue.

  3. Richard MacTavish says:

    This is a major concern for the capital region. The architectual designs look good. The expansion would create a big boast to the economy of the Fredericton region as well as New Brunswick. Hopefully the construction will begin soon.

    1. Thank you for your support Richard!

  4. Ryan says:

    The time has come and I’m impressed what is being proposed.

    1. Thank you Ryan – the team has been working with all our tenants and stakeholders to make sure the design addresses everyone’s needs!

  5. richard says:

    I’m against any tax dollar investments until we see the three airport authorities (Fredericton, Saint John, Moncton) come up with an integrated, rational plan to address air services for NB. Otherwise we are just duplicating spending.

    1. Thank you for your input Richard, and we respect your opinion. Each of the three major airports does serve a separate catchment area, and we feel that our growth speaks for itself – traffic has increased in each of the past six years, and we have more air service options than ever before.

  6. Samuel Cormier says:

    I fully support this idea not just as a citizen but as a aviation enthusiast, maybe if there is a military appron the government would invest more money, and there would be a new terminal!

    Cheers, Samuel Cormier

  7. Peter Dielissen says:

    Can’t you buy the land from the Feds for say $1 which would then solve all your funding problems?

    1. Hi Peter – that’s a timely question. Divestiture (selling the land to the airport authorities) is one of the options Transport Canada is considering as they develop recommendations for the future of airports in Canada. However, it is unlikely that they would transfer the land at no cost, and there are additional considerations such as liabilities, tax implications, zoning of surrounding properties (which may change once the land is no longer Crown land) and so on. So it is more complicated than it seems at first, and would be a longer-term solution to the small-NAS airport issue. We have an immediate (overdue, really) need to expand the terminal building, so we are asking the government to find an immediate solution for this project as well as a longer-term solution for all small-NAS airports.

  8. Dave says:

    Would the expansion lead to more flights and new routes coming in and out of Fredericton? That’s something I think everyone can get behind. I personally rarely find the lines an issue

    1. Hi Dave, we’re glad you’ve had good luck with the lineups! Yes, the terminal expansion would enhance our ability to attract new carriers and add new routes. Right now there is little capacity at peak times to add flights (and those are peak times specifically because those are the times airlines need to fly). There’s one catch, though – that only holds true if our partners at the provincial and federal levels share the cost with the airport authority. If not, the additional costs would need to be passed on to the airlines and passengers, which could negatively impact traffic and routes.

  9. Michael Shin says:

    Agree that the provincial capital should have modernized airport. It’s important because the airport is where people build the first impression. As Fredericton wants to attract more investors, immigrants and new comers, it must have better look gateway to lock them in on their first field trip. Can’t forget how disconcerted I was when I first time landed here; what? is here really the capital of NB?

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