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Winnipeg airport's $3.37-B effect

Study highlights strong, growing economic impact for city

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Airport Authority CEO Barry Rempel.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Airport Authority CEO Barry Rempel.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/4/2017 (671 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When the new Winnipeg airport terminal was completed in 2011, it was forecast passenger traffic would hit four million by the end of 2019.

Well, that milestone was hit three years early and the overall economic impact the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport has on the city continues to be strong, growing at a rate faster than the GDP growth of the city.

On Friday, the 2016 Economic Impact Study on the airport was released by Vancouver-based Intervistas, which estimates the airport’s annual direct, indirect and induced economic impact was a whopping $3.37 billion.

“We’ve been pretty pleased watching the progress. We knew there was going to be some improvement in the numbers,” said Barry Rempel, president and CEO of the Winnipeg Airports Authority, the organization that owns and runs the airport.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/4/2017 (671 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When the new Winnipeg airport terminal was completed in 2011, it was forecast passenger traffic would hit four million by the end of 2019.

Well, that milestone was hit three years early and the overall economic impact the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport has on the city continues to be strong, growing at a rate faster than the GDP growth of the city.

On Friday, the 2016 Economic Impact Study on the airport was released by Vancouver-based Intervistas, which estimates the airport’s annual direct, indirect and induced economic impact was a whopping $3.37 billion.

"We’ve been pretty pleased watching the progress. We knew there was going to be some improvement in the numbers," said Barry Rempel, president and CEO of the Winnipeg Airports Authority, the organization that owns and runs the airport.

"Just the passenger-traffic growth alone means there is a change," he said. "We had some pretty impressive traffic growth the last little while."

The strong numbers — the four-million passenger count in 2016 represented a year-over-year increase of close to six per cent — are continuing this year.

Rempel said the first-quarter results, which will be released next week, are on track for a similar pace of growth, giving the Winnipeg airport the third-strongest passenger growth rate in the country.

"March, for some reason, was just unbelievable," Rempel said.

Adding together the direct, indirect and induced impacts where Intervistas used a multiplier, the economic impact of the airport includes a total of 17,130 jobs, total wages of all employees of $830 million, an estimated $1.54 billion in total GDP and $3.37 billion in total economic output.

"The airport is an incredible driver of the economy," said Dayna Spiring, CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg.

"It is great to have a group like the Winnipeg Airports Authority, who are able to aggregate so much activity. It really opens a lot of doors for us."

There’s no data to compare the economic impact the Winnipeg airport has on the city relative to the economic impact other airports have on other cities, but the thinking is it might be larger.

"One of the issues for us in Winnipeg is that the city is such a distribution gateway," Rempel said.

It is the busiest airport in the country for scheduled freighter flights, with an average of 300 cargo landings each month.

As much as the Intervistas report took into account, it did not include the impact of the Royal Canadian Air Force operation, whose 17 Wing division represents about 3,500 additional jobs in the airport region.

While the largest increase in traffic over the past four years has been to and from the country’s largest airport in Toronto — there was an additional 4,278 seats per week on Winnipeg-Toronto schedules between 2012 and 2016 — northern routes and carriers are a big part of the airport’s activity.

For instance, there are now three weekly 767 cargo flights from Winnipeg to Iqaluit.

As well, scheduled passenger/cargo flights to Northern Manitoba communities make up a great deal of the activity at the airport.

Many of those flights are offered by Calm Air International, Perimeter Aviation and Keewatin Air, airlines owned by Winnipeg-based Exchange Income Corp.

In total, Exchange Income Corp.’s operations at the airport represent about 1,000 jobs.

Mike Pyle, CEO of the company, said: "We feel Barry (Rempel) and his team are even more customer-focused than ever. Our business is different than Air Canada and we feel they really try to understand our needs."

The $600-million airport terminal building opened in the fall of 2011 and some ancillary commercial developments continued to occur, including the opening of a couple of hotels.

Going forward, Rempel said he is hoping his board will approve some "not insignificant" new capital spending at his board meeting next week.

Pyle’s company is likely to be responsible for the next big new industrial development on the airport campus, with its previously announced intention to build a heavy maintenance shop to support Canada’s new fleet of 16 Airbus C-295 search-and-rescue aircraft.

Further details on that development may be forthcoming at EIC’s own annual meeting next month.

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Martin Cash

Martin Cash
Reporter

Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.

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History

Updated on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 8:33 AM CDT: Edited

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