YFC: Fredericton International Airport - History of the Airport
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History of the Airport

One of the earlier terminals.

One of the earlier terminals.

Long before the Fredericton Airport was built, Fredericton was shown to have a public seaplane base licensed for Customs on the official ‘List of Airharbours Available for Use’. From 1920 until 1949, the City of Fredericton tried to establish a municipal airport. The first site considered, between 1930 and 1932, was in Embleton, three miles west of the city. By 1936, the possible site changed, and Nashwaaksis was to become a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan aerodome. However, the Department of National Defence decided against this, since the cost of construction would be too high.

The first private airport licence was issued in 1941, to Mr. F. Harwick. The field was situated in Barker’s Point, and it was meant for light aircraft and day operations only. In the following year, Mr. Harwick requested for airmail and passenger service to Fredericton, but the site was declared unsuitable for such endeavours. In the winter of 1945, Mr. James Sturgeon leased the aerodrome from Mr. Harwick, and by February of 1946, the licence was transferred to Mr. Sturgeon. In fall 1948, Maritime Central Airways started scheduling operations with the ‘Lockheed 10’ aircraft, using the Barker’s Point field. In April of 1949, Mr. Gaetano Digiacinto took over the Barker’s Point Aerodrome from Mr. Sturgeon, but in 1950, his licence for the airfield expired, and he did not renew it. The airfield returned to farm land by December 1951.

During this time, the City of Fredericton had been trying to secure an airport for the community. It had unsuccessfully tried to get passenger and mail service from Barker’s Point. The mayor had approached Ottawa in 1943, and a site near Rusagonis, twelve miles away from Fredericton was suggested, but no action was taken. In March of 1945, the City asked Ottawa again for a survey, and in May a possible site was found in Lincoln, nine miles from Fredericton. Cost comparisons were done between the Russagonis site and the Lincoln site, and on April 25, 1947, the Lincoln site was decided as the best site for an airport. In May of 1948, the City finally expropriated the site, and in September of 1948, the work began.

Historic Fredericton Airport.

Historic Fredericton Airport.

On November 30, 1949, the runway was long enough to allow the Department of Transport officials to land. In January of 1950, the clearing of the second runway began. In March of 1950, the Department of Transport and the City of Fredericton signed an agreement proposing that the Department would construct the airport and the City would build the terminal. The City would be responsible for maintenance and operations of the airport. On April 11, 1950 an airport licence was issued to the City. Starting in April of 1951, the Department of Transport paid the airport a subsidy of five cents per square yard (185,320 square yards). In 1954, this was increased to six and a half cents per square yard.

In 1951, the Fredericton Airport was operational. The staff consisted of an Airport Manager, an Attendant, and two Equipment Operators. In the spring of 1951, the Department of Transport aeradio facilities were moved from the old airport in Blissville to the Fredericton Airport. The facilities provided weather information for the pilots; however, in 1956, full-time meteorological staff were stationed in Fredericton.

In 1950-1951, the aircraft servicing the Fredericton Airport was the ‘Lockheed 10’, which could carry only ten passengers. In 1952, the Douglas DC-3 replaced the Lockheed 10. In 1956, the North Stars, Viscount and Super Constellation aircraft began providing service. In 1961, the Vanguard Aircraft was introduced.

Current tower before latest terminal upgrades.

Current tower before latest terminal upgrades.

In 1957, the city of Fredericton approached the Department of Transport to transfer ownership of the airport. The airport had begun to take a financial toll on the city, with the demand and inevitably the expansions and construction. On November 7, 1959, the Department of Transport purchased the airport, including the land, buildings, installations and equipment, for the amount of $118,000.

In 1958, runway 15-33 was expanded upon, increasing the length of the runway to 6,000 feet. Also, high-intensity approach and runway lights were installed on the runway. In 1959, the Instrument Landing System was installed. In 1961, a second taxiway was built, along with an extension to the aircraft ramp. In 1963, major expansion of the airport started. The expansion included a new terminal building, a maintenance garage, a firehall, a pump-house, a water, sewage, and fire hydrant system, extended ramp areas, roads, and a car parking lot.

In 1983, the maintenance garage was expanded to contain additional heavy equipment, including a pavement sweeper, a forklift, and a front end loader. In 1984, construction on the aircraft parking ramp was begun to provide more manoeuvring and parking space for the aircraft. In 1988, the Air Terminal was expanded upon; both the first and second floors were improved, with more room for staff, more public space, a larger restaurant, a distinguished visitor’s lounge, and larger electronics workshop.

The new, longer runway being constructed.

The new, longer runway being constructed.

In 1998, negotiations began between the board of the Fredericton Airport (YFC) and the Department of Transport with regards to the operation of the Fredericton Airport. In 2001, Transport Canada agreed to transfer the management, operation, and maintenance of the airport to the Greater Fredericton Airport Authority, Inc.

The next year, Runway 09-27 finished its expansion to 8010′. The same year, plans to develop the Fredericton Aerospace and Business Park at the Airport began. In 2003, Canada’s first Travel Bank was implemented to attract Delta Airlines, the first major American airline to service New Brunswick. $2.5 million was raised by businesses and the Government, and Delta Airlines began flights from Fredericton to Boston on August 15th. There were also several expansions; the Airport Terminal Building was expanded by 750 m², the Apron was expanded by 5,400 m², and ten new hangars were built for private aircraft. In 2004, the Terminal Building was expanded again for new security equipment – an Explosive Detection System.

2005 proved to be a year full of steady progress and accomplishment for the Airport. Significant improvements were made to the terminal, including upgrading the interior public space. The terminal was prepared to welcome passengers in an attractive, modernized environment reflective of the region’s growth and development. Construction of 8,500 square feet of additional space was completed at the end of the Air Terminal Building; this area is known as the Pavilion. The Pavilion serves multiple purposes, including: use for military operations, arrivals of large international flights, and other miscellaneous functions. Passenger volumes steadily increased during the year, with more than 229,000 passengers travelling through the Airport.

CANlink/MFC Flight School opens.

CANlink/MFC Flight School opens.

2005 led into a productive 2006; passenger traffic grew by 7 per cent, reflecting a consistent growth trend. Winter vacation travel was introduced in the spring when Air Transat launched their service from mid-March to early May between Fredericton and Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Many projects were active during the year, including: putting the finishing touches on the multi-use Pavilion building, completion of interior Terminal renovations, general maintenance, and parking lot upgrades.

In 2007, the availability of winter charter service from Fredericton was enhanced when Sunwing initiated service to Cuba in March. Also, Air Canada announced its new direct flight to Ottawa. A major achievement was receiving international designation and renaming the Airport to Fredericton International Airport. During the year CANLink Aviation and Moncton Flight College teamed up to open a Fredericton campus for their flight school to train Chinese student pilots.

In 2009, the airport authority received approval to change its name to the Fredericton International Airport Authority Inc. (FIAA) in honour of its international designation and renaming of the airport.

Inaugural WestJet Flight

Inaugural WestJet Flight lands at YFC on April 15, 2015.

In 2011, FIAA celebrated its first decade since taking over operations of the Fredericton International Airport from the federal government. The decade had seen numerous improvements, and the next decade promises to also be one in which the airport continues to grow and evolve.

The community celebrated the arrival of WestJet in April of 2015 and YFC is now serviced year-round by both of Canada’s national air carriers.

Starting in 2010 and continuing through to 2016, the Fredericton International Airport has seen record breaking passenger numbers each year, with 377,977 passengers travelling through the airport in 2016 – an eight per cent increase over the previous year. This continued growth places a strain on the airport’s outdated and undersized infrastructure, and the FIAA is working to secure funding for a much-needed terminal expansion. The airport authority completed several projects in 2016 to prepare for the terminal expansion, including a reconfiguration of the airport entryway to improve safety (in partnership with the Government of New Brunswick), expanding water treatment facilities and a second well, adding 249 new parking spaces to the parking lot, and updating the payment options available for parking. FIAA has also worked with CATSA to facilitate the installation of a second security line – this work began in 2016 and the second line was operational in February 2017. Although the second security line is a stop-gap measure, the airport authority recognized that the record passenger numbers meant interim measures needed to be taken to improve the travellers’ experience leading up to and during construction.

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