Traffic to boom at Canada's airports - report

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Canada's airports will be handling 45% more passengers by 2012 than they are today, according to a new report published by the Canadian Airports Council (ACA) and Airports Council International- North America (ACI-NA).

The report - titled Economic Impact of Canadian Airports - predicts that by 2012 Canada's airports will be handling 112.5 million passengers annually, 34.1 million more passengers than they are today.

It also projects the total economic related activity produced by Canada's airports to grow by 2008 to C$40.7 billion - compared with C$30.7 billion now - and the employment they generate to increase to 570,000 people.

"Canada's aviation industry has expanded dramatically over the last 25 years," says CAC chairman Murray Sigler, who is also president and CEO of the Winnipeg Airport Authority.

"The figures released in the report, along with other factors such as expanding global alliances, indicate continued dynamic growth of the Canadian airport industry," says Sigler.

According to the report, more than 195,000 passengers a day rely on Canada's airports for business and leisure travel - producing estimated total of 78.4 million passengers at the country's airports in 1997.

The airports employ about 139,000 people, while their presence has created another 292,000 jobs in Canadian communities. These jobs translate into earnings of C48.1 billion, according to the report, and the airports themselves generate C$4.5 billion in tax benefits.

The economic impact report was made public at the "New Directions in Canadian Airport Management" meeting co-sponsored by the CAC and ACI-NA in Ottawa and which ends today.

Noting that the conference had drawn together nearly 20 Canadian airports and over 30 US airports to focus on economic issues and the future, newly elected CAC vice chairman Paul Benoit provides a graphic example of one airport's economic impact.

Benoit, president and CEO of the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority, notes that today the Ottawa airport alone generates a total economic output of C$747.9 million.

At the meeting of airport executives, the CAC and ACI-NA - the North American arm of the world's leading airport association - announced they would open a new joint office at Ottawa International Airport early in 1999 to reinforce the role of Canada's airports in the ACO world organisation.

Pointing out that Canada's National Airports Policy has now meant 86 airports being transferred from government control to airport authorities and other local entities, Sigler says: "As commercialised airports emerge as a new entity in Canada, we're pleased that the CAC is evolving into a meaningful organisation.

"This conference is the first to have full participation of the presidents and CEOs of all major Canadian airport authorities."

Agenda items discussed included US/Canada partnerships; airports as economic generators; airport development; financing; air service; optimising airport concessions; policy, planning and commercialisation; year 2000 software compliance; business strategies; and performance benchmarking.

Canadian Transport Minister David Collenette and the US Ambassador to Canada, Gordon Giffin, also addressed the meeting.