Speaking Notes for
Regis Trudel, Chairman, Board of Directors
Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority
To the news conference announcing the expansion of Ottawa Airport
Held on October 26, 2000
At the Ottawa Airport, Gloucester, Ontario
Please check against delivery
Good afternoon and thank you for joining us here today. On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Airport Authority, I am very pleased to announce that the Board has approved the $300 million first phase to expand the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport.
As well, I wish to congratulate our President Paul Benoit and his team for delivering an affordable, comprehensive plan that will serve this region's travel needs for decades.
I am particularly pleased to stress that this $300 million capital investment will go ahead with absolutely no recourse to taxpayers' dollars. It will be financed through the Airport Improvement Fee we introduced in 1999. After all, that was and is the sole purpose of the fee.
By the Spring of 2004 at the very latest, the Ottawa Airport will sport a much different and far more impressive look and feel - one that will serve all of our customers better - and one that will present particular benefits for business flyers.
For the Airport Authority, the efficiencies of a modern airport will ensure that our investments are made to better serve our customers rather than on band-aid solutions to accommodate the shortcomings of present facilities.
We are building a new $140 million terminal with a unique three-level departure and arrival configuration that will provide direct access for express travellers and let passengers view the planes from the check-in counter to the departure gate -- panoramas and vistas that are extremely rare in airport design. There will be climate controlled passenger bridges to an adjacent new parking structure.
We will also put in place improved baggage claim facilities, expanded Canada Customs, U.S. Customs pre-clearance, and increased gate and counter positions for airlines. We are building to serve today's needs. Our design, however, also offers the flexibility for two optional expansion phases to accommodate growth for the next twenty years.
This expansion is the largest construction project undertaken in the Ottawa/Hull region for some 20 years. It will provide a substantial number of local jobs and business activity.
It is based on the solid footings of our 1997 inaugural principles of financial responsibility, safety, and placing the passenger first. It's always a great joy to see a visionary proposal proceed, but this particular vision is firmly based in reality. I'd like to share with you our thinking as to why this airport expansion is needed.
At the heart of the Ottawa/Hull region boasting over 1.2 million people is a burgeoning, vibrant urban area that requires a modern, efficient infrastructure to fulfil its promise. An efficient airport is the cornerstone of that infrastructure.
This is our nation's capital. We host the seat of our country's government and all that goes with it:
•the people and organizations that govern and those that interact with government;
•domestic and international delegations, dignitaries, and conventions; and
•throngs of tourists and visitors who come to get a taste of our national pride.
That alone could well form the basis for expanding and improving the Airport to be a world-class, truly international airport, but our reality stretches well beyond government and tourism. Our business sector has grown well beyond the capacity of our existing facilities. We need to expand to meet current demands, let alone future projections. This is especially true for our high technology industry.
The Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport once relied on government to sustain traffic. Now, the high technology industries are driving growth, job creation and prosperity in our region.
Our regional economy has climbed to over $30 billion. For three years in a row, even the Globe and Mail has rated Ottawa/Hull as one of the top five business centres in Canada -- please note that is business centres, not government centres. The advanced technology industry alone accounts for $8 billion in economic activity here.
The Conference Board of Canada has us listed as the country's hottest properties in terms of employment growth.
An important statistic for those of us in the aviation industry is export sales. Ottawa-based technology companies have been growing their foreign export sales at an astounding rate of 30% annually since 1996. And 90% of the products developed locally are exported.
Marketing and sales people flying in and out of Ottawa are responsible for this incredible growth in exports.
It is crucial for the Airport to keep up with Ottawa's economic growth. The Airport must not impede, but rather facilitate this region's growth.
Three years ago, the Ottawa Airport was privatized to make it more responsive to customer needs and to operate more efficiently. Already, the privatization of your Airport has become a win-win situation for government, for business and for taxpayers - an unqualified success.
We have had successful years each and every year since our inception as an Airport Authority. And as a not-for-profit, private authority, we function completely without government funding, operating the Airport on revenues from landing fees, tenancy agreements and commercial operations such as parking. Any and all operating surpluses we achieve are re-invested in the Airport.
We finance expansion and capital investments through the Airport Improvement Fee.
As we shared with you recently, Ottawa Airport has a $1 billion positive economic impact on this community.
4,000 jobs and a $365 million direct contribution to the local economy each year in the form of salaries, goods and services; Total employment exceeding 9,000 jobs, to say nothing of the benefits to this region from construction.
The present Airport facility does all that now. Consider what a modern, efficient airport will do.
This expansion project is one of the most complex and important construction projects undertaken in the National Capital Region. Our customers, the travelling public, have our assurance that we will accomplish this expansion while continuing to provide the very best service our facilities will allow.
I would like to invite our President and CEO, Paul Benoit, to detail our course over the next few years.