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Canada’s airports are preparing for a more connected future, following two intensive days of discussion and planning at Airports Canada 2019.
This biennial event, held by the Canadian Airports Council (CAC), attracted over 200 aviation leaders to Kelowna, B.C., from across North America. Conference delegates heard from senior executives and subject matter experts representing airports, airlines and government.
With changes coming in the airline sector and the government announcement that airport security screening will be placed in the hands of private management, the timing of Airports Canada was ideal.
“Every decade or so it seems that the aviation sector upends itself,” said CAC chair and airport director of the Kelowna International Airport, Sam Samaddar. “We could not have chosen a better time to have everyone together in one place, talking everything through. Canada’s airports are determined to offer an efficient and respectful experience to an increasingly diverse and growing group of travellers. After two days of discussion among ourselves and with our airline and government partners, I think we identified a lot of the pressure points and can see a clear path forward.”
A highlight of the conference was a keynote address by U.S. Consul General Katherine Dhanani, who stressed the strong bonds between the two countries and the many initiatives underway to help ease air border processing.
Sessions also addressed a number of ‘hot topic’ issues, including how airports around the world are dealing with drone incursions; how officials and businesses on both sides of the border are working to enhance preclearance and other border services and how the changes in airline sector might affect airports and travellers. Other panels examined how airports work with and for their communities, an examination of transport and aviation policy in light of the upcoming federal election, and the challenges and opportunities for regional aviation service.
“Coming together for Airports Canada energizes the airport community to work even harder for their travellers and communities.” said CAC president, Daniel-Robert Gooch. “The majority of Canada’s airports are self-funded and locally-managed non-shared capital corporations. They contribute to their communities in many ways, from enhancing tourism and trade opportunities to reinvesting billions of dollars into regional economies through special programming and infrastructure spending.”
Gooch also noted that the work doesn’t begin or end at Airports Canada; it’s continuous. “With changes in the aviation sector happening at a rapid pace and an election only a few months away, the CAC has created a seven-point plan that, if adopted by the government, would not only eliminate many of the bottlenecks and snags faced by travellers, but would actually elevate their experience.”
With 54 members representing over 100 airports, including all of the National Airports System (NAS) airports and most passenger service airports in every province and territory, CAC members handle virtually all of the nation’s air cargo and international passenger traffic and 90 per cent of domestic passenger traffic.