By Staff, The Daily Business Buzz
Requires airport improvement fee adjustment
Passengers check in at the Air Canada counter at the Halifax Stanfield Airport in this Daily News file photo.
[HALIFAX, NS] – Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA) is preparing to implement the next phase of its current 10-year capital plan to upgrade its facilities, expand current services and enhance the passenger/visitor experience at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
"Halifax Stanfield is one of the most critical pieces of transportation infrastructure in Atlantic Canada," says Tom Ruth, HIAA president and CEO. "Over half of all the air passengers and air cargo that move in our region pass through our airport. We've accomplished a lot since the airport was transferred from the federal government 12 years ago, but there's more to be done to ensure Halifax Stanfield continues to be a global leader in customer service and a key driver in regional economic growth."
Highlights of HIAA's comprehensive capital plan include the following major infrastructure improvements:
• Expand both Domestic/International and US Preclearance check-in halls to accommodate new passenger processing models for increased capacity and efficiency;
• Upgrade baggage handling and baggage screening systems to improve security and increase efficiency;
• Extend the main runway to 10,500 feet to accommodate larger cargo and passenger aircraft;
• Expand the US Preclearance holdroom to increase capacity;
• Replace three emergency response/fire vehicles for greater safety;
• Reconfigure airport roadways to increase traffic capacity; and
• Expand and upgrade utility infrastructure.
"These improvements are required to meet the needs of our current and future passengers and visitors, allowing us to compete effectively for new business and to adapt to the long-term needs of our airline partners," Ruth says.
There are three ways major Canadian airports like Halifax Stanfield can fund necessary capital improvements – reinvest operating surpluses, borrow and use the Airport Improvement Fee (AIF). Like other airports, HIAA uses all three. Operating surpluses will continue to be reinvested; funds from HIAA's two bond issues will continue to be used; and the AIF is being changed to $25 from $20, effective January 1, 2013. This change will be reflected on airline tickets sold on or after October 1, 2012 for Halifax passengers whose flight departs on or after January 1, 2013.
Projects at Halifax Stanfield to be funded by the AIF are determined through a consultation process with the airlines that serve Halifax. The AIF is collected by the airlines from departing passengers and is added to the price of each originating airline ticket, which represents about 40 per cent of all Halifax Stanfield passengers. It does not apply to arriving or connecting passengers.
"Responsible, effective management of the growth and development of the airport is essential to ensure its long-term financial health," Ruth says. "We are committed to providing the necessary infrastructure, both as Nova Scotia's principal air connection to the world and as a huge economic engine for our community. These facility improvements will help us fulfill those responsibilities."
"Management of this critical asset requires that we budget and manage our resources to create modest annual surpluses, allowing us to maintain moderate aeronautical fees charged to airlines to enhance our competitive position; maintain our A+ credit rating; and maintain a debt per enplaned passenger ratio that is below the average of the other major airports in Canada," adds Ruth.