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Ottawa International Airport Authority President and CEO to step down

Release date: 
14 March 2012 :00am

Paul Benoit has been a “tremendous catalyst for change,” says Mayor Jim Watson

After 16 years at the helm, Ottawa International Airport Authority President and CEO, Paul Benoit, will be retiring effective February 2013.

During his tenure, more than $500 million has been invested in airport infrastructure upgrades. A new passenger terminal was built in 2003 at a cost of $310 million, an expansion was carried out five years later at a cost of $95 million and a $60 million expansion to the airport’s parking facilities took place between 2004 and 2010.

“When Paul first accepted that position, the airport looked like something you’d find in the third world,” says Jim Durrell, former Ottawa mayor and past Chair of the Airport Authority’s board. “It was losing money and it was an embarrassment. Now, thanks in large part to Paul’s leadership, it is recognized as being among the finest airports on the planet.”

Last month, Airports Council International, an industry association representing airports in 179 countries and territories around the world, announced that Ottawa was ranked first in North America among all airport sizes and second in the world in customer service.
“Paul thinks like an entrepreneur,” says current Airport Authority chair Raymond Brunet. “And not just when it comes to customer service. We’ve invested more than half a billion dollars in building and infrastructure projects in the past few years and it was his job to make sure those projects were on track. In fact, they were often done faster and at less cost than anticipated. That’s a testament to his leadership and ability to motivate people.”

Mayor Jim Watson added his congratulations for the outstanding development and growth that the Ottawa Airport has experienced under Paul Benoit’s watch. “Paul has been a tremendous catalyst for change at the Ottawa Airport,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Under his leadership, the airport has become the best in North America and a global leader that drives economic and tourism growth in the nation’s capital. On behalf of our residents and my Council colleagues, we are extremely grateful to Paul Benoit.”

Despite those accomplishments, when asked about his finest moment, he points to the establishment of Project Clear Skies, the Airport Authority community-giving program that has pumped almost $1 million into Ottawa–Gatineau charities since 2004.
And his plans after he retires? “After 45 years, I think I will start by taking a bit of a rest,” he says. “Then, who knows?”

An executive search is expected to get underway shortly to replace Mr. Benoit.

OMCIAA operates Ottawa International Airport without government subsidies under a 60-year lease transfer agreement with Transport Canada. The OMCIAA’s mandate is to manage, operate and develop airport facilities and lands in support of the economic growth of the National Capital Region.