Regional council approves another $19M for airport expansion project
KITCHENER -- Councillors with the Region of Waterloo have approved an additional $19 million to expand the Region of Waterloo International Airport, bringing the grand total of the project to $44 million.
“People are anticipating there’s going to be a large demand for travel later this summer once it safe to do so,” said Chris Wood, the airport’s General Manager.
The goal is to double the size of existing terminal and double the number of staff.
“Not only space for passengers but baggage. We need to increase the capacity of our baggage system,” said Wood.
Airport staff expect about 10 flights per day by the end of the summer. Pre-pandemic there was only one flight a day.
“They are going to want to depart within half an hour of each other, which really does put a lot of pressure on your terminal building,” Wood said.
During the regional council meeting some councillors raised concerns about spending money on flights that have not yet been secured.
“This money is other people’s money that we're spending and we need to do it wisely,” said Coun. Geoff Lorentz.
Lorentz said he's disappointed his motion to defer the decision didn't pass.
“We’ve had airlines come. We’ve had airlines go. Obviously if they were successful they were still be here,” Lorentz said.
“You need to take a bit of a leap of faith in order to provide these facilities,” said Coun. Tom Galloway.
Galloway argued there’s still opportunity to reconsider the decision in the summer.
“If things substantially change due to the pandemic, or other reasons, then we will be in a position to put off most of the improvements,” Galloway said.
According to Flair Airlines, service is still on track to start on May 1. Pivot Airlines has not yet released a starting date.
The expansion project is expected to start by the end of the summer. Staff hope the work is complete by this time in 2022.