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Airport numbers down, sparking concern at city hall

Passenger and cargo traffic has decreased at Hamilton’s international airport, leaving some at city hall wanting answers.
Source: TradePort International

Passenger and cargo traffic has decreased at Hamilton’s international airport, leaving some at city hall wanting answers.

A new annual report for the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport shows that passenger traffic in 2013 decreased by about 10,000 passengers to roughly 341,000, despite manager TradePort International increasing the airport’s capacity by nearly 20 per cent over 2012.

It also shows a decline in cargo billable weight of about 2.5 per cent over the year before.

There’s still plenty of good news in the report, including $218 million in financial benefit to the city and more than 2,700 jobs created since TradePort took over in 1996.

But Coun. Chad Collins of Ward 5 says the decrease in traffic concerns him. When the city signed a management agreement with TradePort, it projected that a million people per year would fly out of Hamilton by 2010.

“We’re nowhere near where we anticipated being in 2014,” Collins said.

“It’s not like we’re just shy of our target. We’re years away from our target.”

Frank Scremin, TradePort president and CEO, will present the report to the airport implementation task force on Friday. When that happens, Collins plans to ask how the airport can get back on track.

Right now, “it’s trending in the wrong direction,” he said.

Collins is also drafting a motion to present later this month to look at the 40-year lease the city signed with TradePort

The city, as well as upper levels of government, have invested millions into the airport since 1996. Currently, crews are building a new $12-million cargo terminal, two-thirds of which is the provincial and federal governments are funding, which will open in April 2015.

Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, chair of the task force, has questions about the numbers too. He wants the airport to better capitalize on overflow from Toronto, particularly in light of ongoing debates in Toronto about expanding the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to accommodate Porter Airlines.

TradePort is a difficult position, sandwiched between airports in Toronto and Buffalo, Ferguson said. It’s up to Hamilton to keep “kicking the tires” looking for opportunities.

Here are some highlights from the report:

  • The airport saw 398,261,000 kilograms in cargo billable weight in 2012 compared to 388,286,000 kilograms in 2013.
  • The airport saw 351,491 passengers in 2012, and 341,740 in 2013.
  • The airport inked a deal this year for Cargojet to be a primary tenant at the Air Cargo Logistics Facility, which will open in April 2015.
  • The airport began new service to Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba in 2013, as well as weekly flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica and Los Cabos, Mexico. In December, Sunwing Airlines began weekly service to Varadero, Cuba from Hamilton.
  • 94 per cent of passengers surveyed are likely to use the Hamilton airport again.

The airport implementation task force meets on Friday at 10 a.m. at room 264 at city hall.

Source: TradePort International

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