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Go Global: The big 25, Ottawa’s Airport Authority celebrates decades of service – and modernization


For the past two plus decades, Ottawa’s International Airport Authority has serviced travellers and locals alike – bringing loved ones together and supporting the economic growth of the city.

As the organization marks its 25th anniversary, it’s important to recognize the significant impact the airport has had on Ottawa and the various people and projects that have brought us to this point, says Mark Laroche, president and CEO of the Authority.

“I am so proud of our airport, our employees and the important role we play in connecting Ottawa-Gatineau to the rest of the world,” he says. “There’s no question the pandemic has set us back; however, I am looking forward to the future when we can resume our role as a significant economic and social lever in our community.”

Expanding and modernizing

Since its inception in 1997, the Authority has invested nearly $720 million in airport infrastructure, customer experience upgrades and funded critical development projects.

Notably, the Authority built a new three-level terminal and parkade structure and underwent a handful of expansions, resulting in 27 gates and 2,600 parking spaces. In the years that followed, runways have been reconstructed with new safety features such as runway end safety areas and grooving, and complex infrastructure such as the baggage handling system have been modernized.

More recently, as part of its YOW+ terminal enhancement program, the Authority relocated the technology-enhanced Canada/International security screening checkpoint to Level 3 and began a comprehensive project to create a new centre court area for food, beverage and retail space. With the Airport Terminal Station that will connect the airport to the city’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) system nearly complete, customers will be in for an elevated airport experience, says Laroche.

“Creating a safe, enjoyable experience for our customers has always been, and continues to be, a top priority,” he says. “These and many more projects over the years have made (the Ottawa airport) an award-winning, accessible, world-class gateway for Canada’s Capital Region. We look forward to the next 25 amazing years.”

An economic driver

While the airport’s physical footprint has expanded in the last 25 years, so too has its economic impact on the city.The airport campus now employs more than 10,800, representing $600 million in wages.

In 2017, the airport’s economic output was estimated at nearly $2.2 billion, making it a key economic driver for the capital.

Passenger volumes also have increased over the years, reaching five million visitors pre-pandemic – a figure the airport is eager to surpass in the future, says Laroche.

While the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented disruption, including a severe drop in passenger volumes and devastating financial losses, the airport remains committed to following public health guidelines and ensuring passengers can travel safely when cleared to do so.

“It’s that commitment to the city and to its customers that has brought the airport such success in the last 25 years,” says Laroche. “I look forward to our airport providing you with the travel experience you’ve come to expect … for many more years to come.”