1999 A Banner Year for Ottawa International Airport - Transborder passenger traffic climbs 11.5%, Overseas traffic up 18%

Release date: 
13 April 2000 :00am
Ottawa - Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority (OMCIAA) President and CEO Paul Benoit says 1999 was a "breakthrough year" for Ottawa International Airport. Fuelled by the growth of the region's high tech and advanced technology, tourism, and business-to-government sectors, overall air passenger traffic climbed 3.25% to 3,211,607 in 1999.

"In all aspects, 1999 was a banner year with more passengers, more flights, more destinations and more services for the people and businesses we serve," said Mr. Benoit. "The exponential growth in passenger volumes and the new airlines are adding pressure on the existing facilities. That we have succeeded in serving so many people with a terminal and ground services that are operating at some 600,000 passengers over capacity is a tribute to all of those who work at the Airport."

For its third straight year, the Airport Authority operated at record capacity. While domestic passenger traffic increased slightly to 2,426,288 (1998: 2,414,355), the biggest gains were in the Airport's transborder (Canada-U.S.) and direct overseas traffic, which climbed 11.5% (to 628,203) and 18% (to 157,116) respectively. In total, there were 81,808 takeoffs and landings at Ottawa International last year, an increase of more than 4,600 from the year previous.

In terms of traveler profiles, pleasure traffic accounted for 32% of passenger volumes while the number of business passengers jumped to 68%.

46% of passengers were visitors to the region versus 43% who were local residents. An additional 11% passed through the Ottawa Airport en route to other destinations.

For the first time in the Airport's history, passengers enjoyed a choice of 25 direct destinations in 1999. Direct links inaugurated during the year included the much-prized Washington (D.C.) National Airport.

Current and recently completed construction projects in the vicinity of the Airport total over $50 million and all indications are that this is just the leading edge of growth in our region. Among the capital improvements completed or launched in 1999 at the Airport itself were the installation of new retail kiosks, replacement of canopies, modification of passenger bridges, the installation of expandable bridge hoods and the restoration of airside asphalt surfaces. Construction of the Airport's new Combined Services Building that will house the new Airport fire hall and maintenance garage is nearing completion.

"In many respects, 1999 was a watershed year for Ottawa International," said Mr. Benoit. "More people parked, more cars were rented, more luggage carts were used, more newspapers were read and more coffee than ever before was sold. Our growth is seemingly limited only by the existing terminal and other infrastructure."

"The merger of Canadian Airlines and Air Canada will provide us with a brief respite in terms of the number of flights into and out of Ottawa. However, the number of passengers continues to climb. That means that domestic flights will be fuller and the strain on the existing terminal will continue as new entrants, such as WestJet, add new pressures over the next six to 18 months."

OMCIAA operates Ottawa International Airport without tax dollars under a 60-year lease transfer agreement with Transport Canada. The Authority's mandate is to manage, operate and develop Airport facilities and lands in support of the economic growth of the National Capital Region. Its 40-year old terminal building was last expanded in 1987. Since that time, passenger traffic has increased 40%.

As stipulated in the Airport's bylaws, the Authority's 1999 financial statement will be released at the Annual General Meeting to be held on May 10, 2000 at the Maison du Citoyen in Hull.

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For additional information, please contact:
Laurent Benoit, (613) 248-2050
Director of Communications and Public Affairs