London airport readies for safety upgrades, more flights

London International Airport is among six small airports in Canada that have been invited to apply for new federal funding to improve the safety of its runways.

London's airport and 5 other small airports eligible for corridor funding

The London International Airport eyes new federal funding opportunities to improve the safety of its runways. (Dave Chidley/CBC)

London International Airport is among six small airports in the country that have been invited to apply for new federal funding .

The National Trade Corridors Fund will enable airports with fewer than 600-thousand passengers annually to seek financial assistance for safety-related projects.

It's part of the federal government's $2-billion dollar commitment to building a national trade corridor.

Chris Ryan, chief financial officer of the London International Airport, said the funding will greatly assist small Canadian airports. He was a guest Tuesday on the CBC program London Morning.

"A lot of these airports are in a situation where they're paying rent to the federal government and their runways and infrastructure [are] starting to get a bit older, and their ability to access financing is somewhat limited."

Ryan said the government wants airports to develop 'runway and safety areas,' which would provide a physical buffer to prevent planes from running off the end of a runway.

He said the London airport is definitely interested in pursuing this because "it's safety and it's very important to us."

Ryan said the airport is also looking at rehabilitating its runways and will upgrade one of its taxiways next year.

More flight options 

London International Airport is now part of the Southern Ontario Airport Network, a group of eleven Southern Ontario airports dedicated to effectively managing demand for air travel in the region.

Ryan said Pearson International Airport wants to avoid congestion by working with, rather than competing against, the airports in the area.

Through equitable sharing of flights, "hopefully we'll see more traffic coming through London."

Ryan said London is far enough away from Toronto that it makes sense for the city's airport to offer more flights to the U-S, as well as domestic flights to cities such as Montreal. 

He said the development of new low-cost carriers, including WestJet's plans to introduce a no-frills line later this year, "certainly fit the profile of the London airport."

Ryan said because of its tight control over costs, London International Airport  is considered one of the most competitive airports in Canada to fly through.