Growth, the Winnipeg Way

Transportation integration is the key to this growing central Canada city and its airport.


Following a growing trend in construction and design, the terminal is registered as a LEED (leadership in energy, efficiency and design) project. Throughout the construction process, the project will be monitored closely to ensure it is adhering to the standards established by the Canada Green Building Council. “It’s one of those things that I thought would be a good idea, but I have to tell you, the financial responsibility side in me was always wondering, does it really pay?

“What we’re finding is it’s really about good management and it does have a positive impact — particularly on operating costs. One of the things carriers are always asking us is to keep our operating costs down. Well, LEED is actually helping us do that, and the process is one that allows us to track all of that and be able to prove it.”

Some of the environmental-friendly aspects which the airport is incorporating into the design and construction of the terminal include:

  • SoFame, a waste heat recuperator system, that captures heat from the airport’s utility building and is then used to heat water;
  • The openness of the facility and glass walls provide natural light to the terminal;
  • Electrical demand management throughout the terminal (e.g., escalators slowing down when not in use);

Also, one of the airport’s runways was decommissioned and the pavement will be broken up and used as fill for the construction project. “That has a net benefit of just over $500,000 to us because we’re reusing the crushed aggregate runway to be the base for a lot of things we’re doing around the terminal building,” Rempel says.

New Revenue Streams

In an effort to keep operating costs at Winnipeg International competitive, the airport authority has developed and continues to look for new revenue streams. According to Rempel, the airport has to be “a little more creative than a lot of other airports.” Airports larger than YWG have heavier aircraft that operate there, and that typically comes with higher landing and other fees.

“Because our critical aircraft is an A319,” Rempel explains, “it means we have to have a lot more landings in order to get those sorts of revenues.” In lieu of that happening, Winnipeg uses subsidiaries to find alternate streams of revenue. One of those subsidiaries here is Avion Services Corp. which provides security (both on- and off-airport), parking services, and retail. “The dividends from that subsidiary come back into the company (Winnipeg Airports Authority) to help us keep our costs to our customers lower than what they might otherwise be.”

Winnipeg Cargo

Cargo is one area the airport is focusing on for growth. In 2005, some 150 million metric tons of cargo passed through Winnipeg International, a 6 percent increase over 2004. According to Rempel, the airport is currently pacing 7.3 percent ahead of 2005, year to date. “This month (June) alone in cargo tonnage, we’re up 14.3 percent, year over year,” he says.

In 2003, the airport added a new cargo apron after talking with the cargo carriers. “It was fairly quickly evident that our infrastructure was insufficient. I call it not having the right size pipe. The pipe was actually constricting the ability of the carriers to do what they wanted to do. So, just by making sure they had the right size pipe — not too big so that we’re spending a bunch of money that nobody’s using, but just the right size — cargo immediately jumped.”

Winnipeg is the number one freighter airport in Canada, according to Rempel. Typically, he says, 65 percent or more of an airport’s cargo comes from the bellies of passenger aircraft. At YWG, 95 percent of the freight that comes through is in freighter aircraft. For comparison, in 2005, some 3,600 freighters came through Winnipeg; the next closest competitor saw only some 2,200. “I’d like to say that we’ve arrived,” adds Rempel, “but we have more work to do and a lot more opportunity in that area (cargo).”

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