Big reno to land at Calgary airport's domestic terminal

The head of Calgary's airport says big changes are in the works to update the aging domestic terminal and create a smoother passenger ride.

Centralized security-screening process also planned to drop wait times

The Calgary Airport Authority says improvements coming to YYC will cut down on long wait times at passenger screening points. (Calgary Airport Authority)

The head of Calgary's airport says big changes are in the works to update the aging domestic terminal and create a smoother ride for passengers.

Calgary Airport Authority CEO Bob Sartor announced the ambitious plans as he talked about YYC's new strategic direction and updated branding, at a presentation on Wednesday.

He said fixing up the domestic side is at the heart of a new vision aimed at elevating the customer experience.

"New flooring, new lighting, a completely new sense of place that's designed to effectively inspire and incent people to stay in our city," he said.

"You're going to have lots of new food, lots of new beverage, we'll be bringing items that are local into our terminal. And the idea is to make it a real reflection of our city, and of the vibrancy of our city."

The domestic terminal at the Calgary International Airport will be renovated over the next few years, the airport authority announced on Wednesday. This is a rendering of the plans. (Calgary Airport Authority)

One of the biggest improvements will be a centralized security-screening facility that Sartor says will drastically reduce the current chronic delays for passengers.

"We think we have a solution for that, and that is to centralize our screening and to put in place newer, more efficient equipment so that, with the workforce that the federal government has, they'll be able to process customers faster," he said.

"Montreal did the same thing, and it dealt with their entire problem."

The plan is to build the new screening area at concourse B where the temporary Air Canada check-in is currently. But the move will have to wait a couple of years until new check-ins for both Air Canada and WestJet are completed, Sartor said.

Calgary Airport Authority CEO Bob Sartor says customers can look forward to big improvements in the next few years, including a new centralized pre-board screening process. (CBC)

The four-year renovation will start with the departures hall, he said.

The airport's long-term plan also calls for attracting an "appropriate mix" of businesses clustered around the YYC campus that will be factored into fuelling Calgary's economy.

Sartor said one of the keys to achieving that goal is to improve public transit access to the airport, even if it's not an LRT route in the near future.

"You know what? It can start with bus rapid transit. It sure can," he said.

Sartor said Vancouver serves as a good example of the impact that public transit can have. "It's been an explosion of development on their campus because of connectivity," he said.

Sartor also noted that more than a third of the travellers at YYC currently do no more than connect through Calgary on their way to other places.

The long-term plan calls for enticing five per cent of those people to stick around for a couple of days.

Improvements planned for the domestic terminal at YYC include new flooring, lighting, and new food and beverage options. (Getty Images)

The airport estimates that's 340,000 people adding tens of millions of new dollars to the Calgary economy every year.

"It's a very compelling opportunity and one that we want to seize as an airport for our city," he said.

Calgary Chamber of Commerce president Sandip Lalli said she's encouraged by what she heard.

"That they're going to bring in that whole Calgary experience into the airport and hopefully people will say, 'You know what? Instead of just connecting, I'm going to stay a day or two,'" she said.

With files from Dave Will