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Happy 20th Anniversary, Ottawa International Airport Authority

On February 1, 1997, the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority (OMCIAA) was officially born. Established as a private, not-for-profit organization, the Authority’s mandate was to operate and develop airport facilities and lands in support of the economic growth of the National Capital Region. Since 1997, the Authority has invested nearly $725 million in infrastructure, including a new terminal, Parkade, combined services building and state-of-the-art baggage handling system, to name a few. It reconstructed all three runways and extended the commercial Runway End Safety Areas (RESAs) to bring them in line with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) standards. And, it continued to invest in safety, security and customer service enhancements for the benefit of passengers, employees, and visitors. As evidenced by the dozens of customer service awards and the more than $2.2 billion generated in total economic activity in Ottawa and Gatineau each year, YOW’s privatization was and is a success.

As we celebrated this important milestone and our many achievements, we also launched a campaign to protect our airport model and educate our stakeholders about what airport authorities are, how they are well governed, what they have invested over the past two decades, and how they contribute to their communities. The campaign is intended to address the federal government’s recent discussions about asset recycling. If it goes forward, the plan could use funds acquired by selling Canada’s major airports to private business interests that are looking to turn them into for-profit enterprises. The campaign sheds light on cases elsewhere in the world where privatization did not always fulfill the original promises or had a negative impact on the air traveller as a result of higher costs 

I, along with the CEOs from Calgary and Vancouver airports and our respective Boards, have publicly stated that selling Canada’s airports is ill advised. We believe this most notably because it would inevitably lead to higher costs and lower service levels for our travellers as for-profit ownership interests will look to provide a shareholder return instead of investing 100% of excess revenues back into airport operations. I encourage you to visit the website to learn more about your airport and why the current locally-governed authority model is and has been working well on your behalf. 

2017 promises to be a special year for many reasons. Along with our 20-year anniversary, Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and Ottawa-Gatineau is prepared to welcome the rest of Canada and the world into the Region for the ongoing Birthday party and events such as Red Bull Crashed Ice, the Juno Awards, and the Grey Cup. The airport is decked out in its 2017 finery, and ready to play host as the primary 2017 celebration gateway – if friends and family are thinking of planning a visit, there’s no better time than this year!

It takes a tremendous amount of effort and dedication to achieve success. In YOW’s case, it is employees, past and present, working together with partners on the campus who offer innovative ideas, persevere through challenges, and embrace service excellence. We have enjoyed the support and trust of many individuals and organizations in the community over the years, and together we have built an airport that values customer service, manages with integrity and transparency, and has safety and security woven through every aspect of its operation. I look forward to our airport providing you with the travel experience you’ve come to expect at YOW for many more years to come. 

Mark Laroche 
President and CEO 
Ottawa International Airport Authority