Waterloo region enters planning phase for regional airport expansion
The region has so far budgeted $34.5 million for the expansion of two runways
Waterloo region has entered the first of several stages in place to expand the Region of Waterloo International Airport in the near future.
Regional council approved a $375 million, 20-year airport master plan in 2017, has so far budgeted $34.5 million for the expansion of two runways.
The region held the first public consultation for the project on June 20, but construction of the expansion wont happen until the airport surpasses 250,000 annual passengers.
The airport saw about 80,000 passengers in 2018, which is approximately 40 per cent of its capacity.
"There will be paced expansion once the numbers warrant it," Regional Chair Karen Redman said.
"It's not an attitude of build it and they will come, but rather be ready to build when the numbers justify it."
Three airlines are currently operating out of the region's airport:
- WestJet Airlines, that provides daily flights to Calgary year-round.
- FlyGTA Airlines, which provides two daily flights to Toronto Island on weekdays year-round.
- Sunwing Airlines, which provides weekly flights to Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic on Thursdays from December through March.
Expanding the two runways would allow for additional, bigger aircraft to use the airport and expand overall runway flexibility.
Airport is 'essential'
Despite the changes, Redman says having an airport in Waterloo region is "essential" and adds the airport has "incredible potential" for growth.
"We want to be poised for expansion when the airline carriers come and we believe they will," she said.
She adds staff have been in talks with start-ups and carriers in the U.S. and South America.
"There will be announcements in the future and it will be the result of a lot of hard work that isn't necessarily obvious to the citizens of Waterloo region right now," she said.
The regional staff plan to hold a second round of public consultations in the fall and will present a recommendation to regional council at the end of 2019.