Monday, January 14, 2013

Saskatoon, Canada: Air Traffic continues to soar in city

Air traffic soared higher once again in 2012 to a record 1.326 million passengers.

“It is incredible,” said Saskatoon Airport Authority president and CEO Stephen Maybury. “We are up 6.5 per cent over last year.”

The 1.326 million passengers that flew out of John G Diefenbaker International Airport in 2012 was 80,000 higher than in 2011 (1.246 million).

“That is our ninth consecutive year of increase,” Maybury said. “That is just a reflection of the sustainable growth we have in the city.”

He said the increase is coming from all areas of travel.

“Every single sector that flies out of here is up.”

The airport is in the midst of a major expansion, scheduled to be completed by 2014, to address the increase in passengers.

It includes more food, beverage and retail amenities post-security, more passenger gates, increased seating post-security and a business lounge.

“(The expansion) is on schedule and on budget,” Maybury said.

With the corresponding high traffic numbers, airlines are also seeing relatively high load factors.

Maybury expects that to translate into modest growth in 2013.

“The demand is there,” he said, adding, “We would like to see an increase in capacity, which means either larger aircraft or more aircraft or more destinations etc.”

WestJet’s new venture, Encore, may help in that regard.

Encore, expected to launch in the second half of 2013, is a regional carrier which will fly in smaller domestic markets. Communities across the country have been lobbying for WestJet to consider them as possible regional destinations.

“Hopefully it adds some additional capacity,” Maybury said.

But they are also constantly marketing to other airlines.

“When you speak to the United and the Deltas, we are constantly in talks with them, but nothing to report at this point.”

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