YQB appoints new president and CEO, announces airport’s results

At its 2018 annual general meeting, Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) took the opportunity to report on the process to recruit a new president and chief executive operator and announced the appointment of Stéphane Poirier, who will take up his duties on April 23, 2019.

An experienced manager, Poirier holds a master of business administration (MBA) degree from the University of Oxford in the U.K., along with a bachelor’s degree in international business from Concordia University, and has over 20 years’ experience in the air transportation industry.

A native of Quebec City, he worked from 2000 to 2016 to develop Calgary International Airport where he held several positions in the air traffic development, business development and cargo development sectors. His in-depth experience includes a period as senior vice-president and chief commercial officer from 2013 to 2016.

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“Stéphane Poirier met all the criteria in our search for a high-calibre manager. As a team leader who is also results-focused, his long experience impressed the members of the board of directors and they supported his appointment unanimously. His enthusiastic approach to an organization in a key position for the development of our region, and his determination to guide it through the next stages in its growth, will ensure that our airport maintains its momentum,” said Jean-Claude Labbé, who chairs the YQB board of directors.

The process to recruit a new president and CEO began in late 2018 when the current president, Gaëtan Gagné, confirmed that he would not serve for another term and indicated his willingness to help the airport through the transition period.

The new president and CEO is taking over from Gagné at a time when major construction work has been completed, the airport is in unprecedented financial health, and passenger growth has progressed constantly over a period of 17 years.

“I would like to offer Mr. Gagné my sincere thanks for his valued contribution and constant dedication to the development of our airport over more than two decades. He laid the groundwork that allowed YQB to rise to the level of a world-class airport and shaped the vision from which we can now benefit. Today, we have everything we need to let YQB continue on its trajectory for the greater benefit of its passengers, the local population and the regional community,” added Labbé.

“I am excited to be coming home to begin this new chapter in my professional life as part of an organization that has already created the structures needed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the worldwide growth of air travel. My mandate will be focused on the development of new connections and the importance of putting passengers first in our actions and decisions. I plan to work in partnership with the Québec City community as a whole and I am looking forward to offering my cooperation,” concluded Poirier.

Aéroport de Québec outlined the positive results from its annual general meeting in another press release. Labbé spoke at length about the major contribution made by outgoing chair of the board of directors, André Fortin, and Gagné in recent years.

“Mr. Fortin and Mr. Gagné brought the biggest project in our history to a successful conclusion and gave concrete expression to a vision for the future that will benefit the entire community in the greater Quebec City area, with support from our highly-experienced teams. Their efforts will have repercussions for the future of our region, in particular because of the creation of cutting-edge infrastructures and the signing of an agreement in principle for the establishment of a U.S. customs preclearance centre at YQB,” Labbé mentioned at the start of the meeting.

The year 2018 ended on a note of historic growth, as Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport announced a 6.2 per cent increase in passenger traffic to a new record of 1,774,871 passengers, 104,000 more than in 2017.

During the year, several airlines increased the number of flights from YQB. WestJet added a new destination, Calgary, along with new flights to Toronto, while American Airlines doubled its capacity on flights to the U.S., in particular by increasing service to Philadelphia. The same airline also plans to improve its schedule in 2019 with new flights to Chicago during the summer.

The establishment of Air Canada Rouge in Quebec City on the Quebec-Montréal and Quebec-Toronto corridors has been welcomed by passengers, while Air Transat has added new destinations at YQB and increased the frequency of flights to Montreal during the summer to allow passengers to catch connecting flights to European destinations.

Last, Sunwing added Puerto Vallarta and Miami to its list of destinations, and also improved its summer schedule at YQB. Earlier this year, YQB signed an agreement in principle with Canada Jetlines Ltd., which intends to provide service from YQB in the future.

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“I have been working to develop our airport and our region for more than two decades,” said Gagné. “I am proud to note that passenger travel at YQB has increased from 643,000 passengers in 2001 to 1.775 million passengers in 2018. The fact that passenger numbers have practically tripled over this period is not down to chance, but the result of an orchestrated plan with a clear emphasis on putting the Passenger First. I would like to mention the commitment and passion driving my team’s work. We have achieved a lot and we can face our next challenges with confidence and enthusiasm.”

As passenger traffic and airline service continues to grow, YQB is coming to the end of the largest expansion project in its history and putting the finishing touches to world-class infrastructures at YQB that will allow it to deal with further expected growth in air traffic and meet the needs of passengers from near and far. At the same time, YQB ended the year 2018 with an overall result of $11.1 million, after posting revenues of $68.2 million and operating expenditure of $57 million. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were $27.7 million in 2018. All YQB profits are reinvested to increase the range of services for passengers and limit the use of debt in financing development projects.

“We are delighted to see the financial results achieved by YQB. It is important to note, also, that we continue to take a prudent approach to risk management, while planning to invest in infrastructures to increase our capacity and meet the growing demand for airport services,” said Fortin.

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