Release date: 
31 December 1998 :00am
Ottawa -- The Ottawa International Airport's terminal building has undergone a transformation this year and the Airport Authority is preparing for further improvements at the airport in the years ahead. President and CEO Paul Benoit reflects on 1998 as a year which brought the terminal facilities to "an acceptable level" for air travellers.

"With the face-lift given to the air terminal building in 1998, it now meets travellers' basic needs," says Benoit. "We have refreshed the building, renovated the retail space and provided more convenient services, like added newspaper and food outlets. There are new parking facilities, washrooms, handicap facilities and information displays -- all this to bring the air terminal building to an acceptable level for the National Capital Region."

According to Benoit, the new year will be an important planning period for the future development of the airport. "We have urgent capacity problems with not enough gate positions for aircraft, inadequate departure holding areas, insufficient parking, and a lack of public space to comfortably service the number of people in the terminal building at peak times. The Airport Authority will be assembling a team that will take charge of the redevelopment of the terminal building and other airport buildings and facilities, as well as the construction of a new parking structure."

The changes at the airport are in response to the need for better air travel facilities and services. Benoit explains that one of the priorities of the Airport Authority is to provide first-class travel services for local business and the travelling public. "Last year, there were a number of new U.S. flights added to meet the needs of our Region. Since the opening of the preclearance facility, less than 18 months ago, Ottawa International Airport's Canada-U.S. flights have increased from 21 per day to over 44 per day. At the same time, the service to Europe has grown from zero non-stops to between six and ten per week, depending on the season."

"Next week, Canadian Airlines will have their inaugural daily non-stop flight to Raleigh-Durham," notes Benoit. "The Airport Authority staff and Board Members worked hard to bring a daily Raleigh-Durham flight to the Region. This is a very important flight for the growth of the Region's high-tech community."

The Ottawa Airport has gone through the greatest transformation of any public facility in the National Capital Region over the last couple of years. The airport was privatized in 1997 and is now managed by a local Board of Directors. There was a new U.S. Customs and Immigration Preclearance facility built in July 1997 that has resulted in new and more frequent flights to U.S. cities. Since the Airport Authority assumed the management of the Ottawa International Airport, it has reinvested $11 million in capital improvements into the airport facilities. It has also initiated a master plan process that will guide airport redevelopment over the next four-to-five years in order to meet the needs of the Region to the year 2020.

For further information:
Paul Benoit 248-2050