In a constant state of change

In a constant state of change

< Back to Articles | Topics: Positive business environment

Contributors:

Jordan Parker

Recognizing the sheer amount of work being put into renovations and projects at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport can be daunting. But Joyce Carter, Halifax International Airport Authority CEO and President, says the work is necessary for the airport to continue to be “an economic enabler” in the province.

“We are a facilitator of business. We are always looking forward with a wide lens and the greatest part of my job is long-term planning,” said Carter. “We deal with all the things happening in the moment at the airport, but we are constantly also looking at where our airport is, and where the community and industry are going.”

With a rotating, evolving 20-year master plan document, 10-year capital and financial plans, five-year strategic plans and annual plans, there’s always something happening.

“There are always things mapping our way, but we know we need to plan and do construction, as we’re Atlantic Canada’s principal full-service airport,” said Carter.

She adds 52 per cent of Atlantic Canadian passengers and 70 per cent of exports go through the Halifax hub.

“We need to constantly see evolution and change, and we always look at our role and take seriously new things we need to do or regulations we need to put in place,” she said. “Based on growth, we see that capacity at the airfield and terminal will get larger, and we need to be able to handle that.”

Last year alone, $30 million was spent on renovations to the airport and airfield, and since 2000, half a billion has been spent.

“Throughout 2017, travellers witnessed many changes to our concessions program,” she said. “We changed our offerings, and we have A&W and Pannizza now,” she said. “Post-security, we have new offerings also. Vino Volo, our wine bar, was added. Our travellers wanted somewhere high-end to sit down. We also opened Bia Mara as well, to cater to those customers.”

The first phase of the 10-year Airfield Restoration Program also began in August. The south apron was restored, a section of the taxiway alpha was restored and work on the runways was also completed.

“We were constantly looking at our airfield and how to keep things operational, safe and secure,” she said. "We need to constantly see evolution and change, and we always look at our role and take seriously new things we need to do or regulations we need to put in place.”

Washroom upgrades were also included in the 2016 business plan for the airport, as part of a $54-million spend to help travellers. It included non-gender labelled individual restrooms and sewage system updates. There was also work on the terminal expansion project, specifically when it came to passenger processing.

In addition to pre-board screening expansions, there is work being done on the terminal building.

“With walls up now, we are expanding out 11 metres onto the airfield. We are doing that on the second level, too, providing additional comfort and room. This helps passenger experience, gives people a clean line of sight to food and other options available, show where gates are and allows people to enjoy their time before a flight.”

In December 2017, security kiosks and eDeclaration machines became available at Halifax Stanfield. The Canada Border Service Agency announced the news along with the airport. Primary Inspection Kiosks (PIK) and the eDeclaration kiosks could be used to verify travel documents and do facial authentication for international travellers, among other things.

“We are continuously looking for innovative ways to improve the airport experience of our passengers. Employing the latest technology to expedite the customs process aligns with our strategic priority of maximizing airport efficiency. We were delighted to collaborate with the Canada Border Services Agency and launch this enhancement for the benefit of returning residents and arriving visitors,” said Carter at the time in a release.

Among other things already completed in the Airport Improvement Plan are the improvements to domestic and international arrival areas and south end hold rooms, expansion of the public parking lot, construction of a water treatment facility and creation of a new roadway system.

“The roadway system was important. It was expanded because of our growth, and the number of vehicles and people coming in,” said Carter.

The reconstruction of the North Tunnel gave passengers ground access to the parking lot at the north end of the terminal, created separate roads for pick up and drop off and included the creation of a split curb to separate traffic so U.S. bound passengers and commercial traffic wouldn’t get congested, according to a Stanfield press release. A one-way loop was also constructed to help with capacity, said Carter.

“It made it easier to drop your passenger off, keep going and go around in a loop. Initially, it was to help with safety and congestion,” said Carter.

“It also really unleashed the land in the commercial core, with the Jiffy Lube, Subway, Irving and created space for future development. Both people work here and passengers can use these services, too.”

Security infrastructure upgrade began in March 2018, and include the upgrading and expansion of passenger screening, domestic gate area and exterior curb security infrastructure.

“We just needed to enhance security, the curbside project in general means safety barriers for pedestrians and those inside the building,” said Carter.

Hoarding walls beside pre-board screening have caused The Ale House to be temporarily rearranged and the upper observation deck is closed until 2019, but Carter says work is always going forward.

“When the observation deck opens back up, it won’t look a whole lot different, but the view over the second level will be on the airfield. It will be enhanced for sure,” she said. “This has been going on for a little while, with extensive construction. It’s a busy area, and we hope to have things completed by next year.”

One area set for a major improvement is the arrivals area, where baggage claim is in need of a revamp. “We wanted to improve the experience, because upon arrival you want to feel warm and welcome and have clean, new washrooms,” she said. “It’s an area we haven’t looked at in a while. It feels dark, and we want to raise the ceilings, have it be more open, brighter and cleaner.”

These improvements are paid for by borrowing money, investing surplus back into the airport and by having an Airport Improvement Fee. As of January 2018, the fee became $28, which goes on a departing passenger’s ticket price.

“We are using all these methods strategically, and setting the price at the right level for the community. We are looking at all three factors and making sure funding makes sense,” said Carter.

“This airport employs 5,700 people and our capital developments help expand the airport. We are seeing more people come through and, directly and indirectly through construction or otherwise, it accounts for 30,000 provincial jobs. We are just making sure we get the infrastructure needs right.”

< Back to Articles | Topics: Positive business environment

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