Annual Public Meeting - May 9th, 2001
We are reporting to you today on yet another remarkable year for Ottawa Airport.
In 2000, we served more people, and more destinations. Our service to our customers has increased for the fourth straight year.
Our community demands more and more from its global gateway. Every year, the airport rises to the challenge of connecting Ottawa and the world.
My fellow directors and I know that this challenge is far from easy.
The management team and the airport employees have accomplished a great deal since the federal government transferred control of the airport four years ago. They maintained service, even though demand rose faster than anyone could have expected.
The management team improved the legacy facilities we inherited, investing millions of dollars in upgrades that were entirely necessary. And they broke the airport's long-time dependence on government subsidies.
This is a key point that cannot be overlooked. The airport operates entirely from its own revenues. It does not take one dime of government subsidies. In fact, it now pays millions annually to governments in taxes and rent.
The airport's economic contribution to our community deserves comment as well. I refer you to the recent study that found the airport's total economic impact on our communities has reached one billion dollars a year.
In fact, the airport directly injects one million dollars into our regional economy every day. The airport accounts for close to four thousand direct jobs.
All this success, however, carries a price. We have stretched our existing airport to the limit. It was never meant to operate at the pace it sustains now.
We have reached the point where maintaining service and upgrading the existing facilities simply cannot keep up with the needs of our community.
For that reason, we are moving ahead with the implementation of the most important decision our board of directors has ever made. I am talking about our decision last October to approve the expansion of Ottawa Airport.
Our role as directors is to ensure that the airport meets the needs of the community it serves. That was the reason the federal government turned the airport over to the airport authority in 1997. We have focused on providing the leadership that the authority needs to fulfill its mandate as a public trust.
It has been more than clear since we took up our responsibilities that the airport would need to grow to keep pace with community needs.
As an organization that does not rely on government subsidies, and that finances itself from its operations, it has been essential that we select the expansion project that best meets our needs and our budget.
The board of directors has challenged the airport's management team throughout the planning process. We have asked the tough questions, and obtained the answers we needed to be sure that the expansion plan meets our community's needs.
We are confident that the management team has selected the right project - one that is reasonable and affordable.
We are confident that the financial foundation for this project is sound. We have secured the financing, and set in place a payment schedule that we know we can meet.
We are confident that the first phase of the project is required now. The airport cannot stretch existing facilities much further.
Depending on how passenger traffic grows over the next few years, we can bring a second and a third project phase into construction. This project enjoys the flexibility that is required to keep pace with the community's growth.
In short, this expansion project is right for now, and for the future. It is right for our community, and we are confident that it will make us all proud.
I know that I am proud - proud of the work performed by my fellow directors, and proud of the management team that works for you, the community.
Our directors have worked well together because they care about the future that we are building together.
I wish to thank each of the directors. Their support and guidance has been a tremendous help to me during my time as chairman.
Looking back, I must say that it has been a privilege to work with this team and its commitment to community-based management.
Looking forward, I see the future rising. Our community is a thriving success. It enjoys a leading position within a country that leads the world in the quality of life. I will venture to say that few other regions are positioned as well as we are to seize the heights of the 21st century.
You may know that my time as chairman of the board of directors is coming to a close. A new chairperson will be named soon. I will continue to serve on the board, and I intend to keep a close eye on developments at the end of Airport Road.
It has been a great privilege to serve the community. I also know that the excitement in many ways is just getting underway.