Airport officials provided a media tour of its biggest projects Friday — the new north-south runway and the new international terminal — estimated to cost $2 billion.
As CBC’s Scott Dippel reports, the construction is going to be part of life at the airport for years to come. Giant dump trucks, earth movers and tall construction cranes seem to be everywhere east of the airport terminal these days.
''Nobody is matching what Calgary has done right now.'— airline analyst Rick Erickson
Construction on the new runway, which will be more than four kilometres long and over a metre thick, is well underway.
As project manager Duncan Fitzpatrick stood on a stretch of the new flat-top, which will eventually be covered with a lot more concrete, he noted everything is measured precisely, with only millimetres of variance.
"The largest planes in the world are potentially going to be landing here so the quality control requirements are very, very stringent, right from the placement of the dirt onto the gravel and through to the different layers of concrete," he said.
He says a few layers of a one-kilometre section of the runway have already been poured, but no more concrete can be put down over the winter months. Fitzpatrick says the new runway is quite simply a massive project.
"We've moved four and a half million cubic metres of dirt this year alone," he said. "We've got seven and a half million to move and we're placing nearly 900 tonnes of top layer concrete, so that's the magnitude of what we're doing."
As massive as the runway seems, nearby the foundation of a new $1.4 billion international terminal is starting to take shape.
It will more than double the size of the existing terminal and feature an energy-saving design, including a geothermal heating system, rainwater recovery and special windows.
Airline analyst Rick Erickson predicts Calgary airport’s new look will help attract direct flights from places like China when these projects are complete.
"Nobody is matching what Calgary has done right now," said Erickson. "If I was Vancouver, I might be looking over my shoulder at where Calgary's gonna go."
But it's all still a few years away as the estimated opening for the runway will be in 2014 and the new international terminal will open in late 2015.