An allocution by:
Claude Bennett, Chair of the Board of Directors
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Welcome to the Annual General Meeting of the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority. My name is Claude Bennett and I am the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
2002 was quite a year – and in so many ways.
While it was certainly a challenge, I consider it a success for a number of reasons.
We capped 5 years of operation as the Airport Authority in February.
5 years of constant change, but 5 good years nonetheless.
Last summer, we celebrated our “Topping Off” ceremony, during which we placed the final steel girder on the roof of the new terminal.
And by December, we were two thirds of the way through the largest construction project that this region has ever seen.
And, we did it without help from any level of government.
The Airport Improvement Fees were readily accepted by the travelling public, particularly when they could see such an impressive structure rising almost before their eyes.
When all is said and done, the project will be completed by October 12th, and it will be on budget.
And yes, that date is earlier than anticipated by more than 6 months.
I would also say that 2002 was a success because the Airport faced many challenges, which were met head-on in every instance.
When it became clear that passenger levels were not returning to pre September 2001 levels, and that revenues would fall short of expectation, the Airport team re-evaluated their commitments and plans for 2002.
In some cases, they scaled back, and in other cases, plans were deferred.
Operations went forward very effectively, and customer service remained a top priority for all.
Towards the end of the year, the situation took a more positive spin as passenger travel increased slightly, and winter travel to sunny destinations was on everyone’s mind.
Having said that, we’ve still got a long way to go.
Success doesn’t happen by accident.
It happens as a result of conscientious decisions, commitment to the organization, and hands-on involvement.
The Ottawa Airport Authority was fortunate to have each of these factors at play in 2002, and I would like to recognize the groups involved.
I would like to thank every member of the Airport Authority team for the part that they played in turning a potentially harmful situation around.
Their diligence and customer focus did not go unnoticed, and was - make that is - very much appreciated.
The Airport Expansion Program team has worked very hard to ensure that the construction project progressed at a rapid rate throughout 2002.
They developed excellent relationships with the project managers, constructors, and sub-contractors involved in the job.
These relationships resulted in a shared commitment to the project, and ultimately the early opening date.
To the various construction partners, I also say thank you.
The quality of their work will be evident to all when we open.
Also worthy of note is our construction partners’ attention to safety and security, which is impressive, to say the least.
It’s evident in the fact that their safety record on this particular project was in excess of one million hours without a lost-time accident in 2002.
Results like this are not insignificant, and they play a tremendous role in the rollout of plans such as ours.
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the entire
Board of Directors of the Ottawa Airport Authority.
They have assisted in every possible way during the initiation and development of the expansion plan, and have represented the Authority and the community with pride.
I would like to thank the Members who sit on the Airport Expansion Project Overview Committee.
They invested a significant amount of time in their duties, and demonstrated true leadership.
As with all Boards of Directors, Members reach the end of their mandate and move on to other challenges.
Our Board is no different.
At this time, I would like to thank Michael Robinson, François Pichard, and Hugh Blakeney, whose terms will expire at the close of this AGM.
And, thank you to Louis Bertrand, who left the Board earlier this year.
I appreciate having had the opportunity to work with each of you, and want you to know that your presence will be missed.
And last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank Paul Benoit for the excellent job he has done of managing the Ottawa Airport.
His skill and knowledge are well recognized in the aviation community, and are certainly a contributing factor to Ottawa’s position as a leading example of how an airport should be run.
You and your team have done a hell of a job.
So, what will 2003 bring the Ottawa Airport Authority?
I’m not sure any of us know at this point.
I think we can safely say that it will not be dull.
We will be watching the Air Canada situation with interest, and perhaps shifting our own plans along the way.
We will hope for an effective resolution to the various other issues that are affecting the aviation industry, and the world at this time.
And closer to home, we will watch our expansion project wrap up in the fall.
I look forward to exciting times as we open the terminal building, and welcome the public into our new home.
I think it will be a fitting way to say thank you to the community for all the support they’ve given the Airport Authority since 1997.
Thank you, Merci.