And it’s that steady, diverse economy that Rempel partially credits for the airport’s strong performance following 9/11. Unlike many other communities, Winnipeg did not see a dramatic dip in passenger traffic in 2002 and cargo was unaffected. In fact, within a year, the airport was back up over 2001 passenger levels.
The official groundbreaking for the airport redevelopment program was in September 2005. Roadwork is currently underway, along with the construction of a four-level, 1,600-stall parking garage that will also house the car rental facilities, on track to be completed this fall.
Rempel says the parking garage is just one of the aspects of the redevelopment that was designed around customer requests. “The customers told us they wanted to be within 1,000 meters of the terminal — that would be the maximum walking distance that they’d ever want to see here. Well, the only way that we could do that is to bring as much of the parking right next to the terminal as we possibly could.” Virtually all of Winnipeg’s parking to date has been surface lots.
The airport spent a good deal of time consulting with the community and airport tenants during the planning process, and Rempel says the planning probably took a little longer than it might have because of all the consultations. However, it is that open communication that he credits for the support the airport has received for the project from the community and the air carriers that serve Winnipeg. “The community has absolutely adopted the project,” he says. “I think, in part, because it’s an indicator to them. It’s an outward manifestation of what people know is happening in the greater community.”
The airport estimates that its redevelopment project will result in a $1 billion economic impact and create some 7,600 jobs. Constructed in 1962, the terminal is definitely showing its age, says Rempel. The cost of refurbishing and the inconvenience it would have created for the traveling public as well as the operators here was too much, so the Authority decided to construct an entirely new facility northeast of the existing terminal.
The project is expected to cost some $560 million, which includes the parking garage, terminal, roadways, civil work sites, and infrastructure. It is funded through Winnipeg’s Airport Improvement Fee, which, according to the 2005 Annual Report, was at $15 per local boarded passenger, $10 of which, together with its investment income earned, is restricted for airport site redevelopment. At roughly 53,000-square meters, the new terminal building is a very open and transparent facility, which is exactly what the community asked for, says Rempel. “They felt it was [reflective of] Winnipeg’s personality — open, transparent, and you can see the horizon from everywhere.” He adds that the design makes the terminal very intuitive. “If somebody walks in, they go up to a kiosk to check in and they can already see that their aircraft is there.”
The new terminal will utilize common use technology. Explains Rempel, “To me that’s just a standard now — you don’t have an option. We will have control of the technology right from the property line.” Early on, says Rempel, the airlines were against the idea. But, they’ve seen it done at many other airports and Rempel says they now see that common use does reduce costs and manpower requirements.
Winnipeg’s carriers have expressed to Rempel that by 2009 when the terminal opens, 80 percent of travelers will have checked in either on a PDA (personal digital assistant) or from a home computer. “That means a very different process,” he says. “The days of the grand check-in hall, they’re gone. This (new terminal) doesn’t have a grand check-in hall.” Rempel adds that it was originally thought the airport terminal would be much larger, but upon further review and working with the carriers, “we’ve been able to determine that we don’t need it. Technology will take care of a lot of what we used to think was required.”
A Leed-Compliant Terminal
The Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA) today broke ground on an airport redevelopment program that will initiate a bold new era of transportation for Manitoba and beyond.
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