WATERLOO – Construction is underway on the Region of Waterloo International Airport’s $44 million expansion project.
The project should see the airport double in size in the next six months in a bid to increase the number of passengers from 70,000 in 2019 to more than one million in 2023.
Region of Waterloo Chair Karen Redman, council, and staff celebrated the occasion Thursday by putting shovels in the ground.
“It is an exciting time for the region and today is an important milestone as the airport continues to grow and drive a thriving economy,” said Redman in a release. “Airline partners have recently announced an increase in destinations and frequency of flights, which will move the airport to the next level in world-class service. This will also provide more opportunities for the Region in terms of jobs and economic expansion.”
The project, which initially broke ground this summer, includes the construction of two buildings featuring baggage carousels, holding areas, food services, retail and pre-board screening.
“The increased commercial service into our Region coupled with increased capacity gives our destination a competitive edge and bodes well for the strength and growth of the community,” said Minto Schneider, chief executive of Explore Waterloo Region.
Officials said the expansion, which is receiving $4 million from the federal government, will help drive economic growth in the region, create jobs and support tourism.
“This investment in the airport will help to ensure we are attracting people and companies to put down roots in Waterloo Region,” Redman said. “This growth is just the beginning as we build a community that is globally competitive and one of the world’s greatest places to live.”
Redman adds that about 80,000 passengers came through the airport in 2019, but that number is expected to grow by one million by 2023.
WestJet, Sunwing, Pivot Airlines, and Flair are all flying out of the regional airport, but plans are in the works for others to come.
“This has been successful, so this may see other airlines say okay maybe we should think about that,” said Chris Wood, the general manager for the airport.
In 2017, WestJet cancelled its weekly flight to Orlando due to demand issues, and in the summer Flair cancelled a number of flights out of the region’s airport as well.
“They’re not going to continue to lose money on routes that aren’t working,” said Wood. “You can now fly to Calgary. I think you could buy tickets today for $89. You could never do that before.”
The terminal expansion project is expected to be completed next spring, but the new arrivals building should be un and running by the end of 2021.