Looking to the horizon after a promising 2019
February 7, 2020
From campus expansions to increased cargo volumes, 2019 marked a year of non-stop action and steady growth at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport.
The airport welcomed 4.5 million passengers through its doors in 2019 - the same amount as in 2018. Passenger traffic persevered despite a major, industry-wide disruption caused by the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max in March 2019. International travel was up 2.6 per cent for the year, reinforced by growing two-way travel destinations such as the Philippines, jumping 8.0 per cent, and India, climbing 7.6 per cent. Travel to and from the U.S. started out exceptionally strong, seeing an additional 30,000 travellers fly across the border from January to June. While the demand for travel remains strong, the community is asking for more options out of YWG.
Through an evolving partnership with Swoop, seven new direct routes were introduced at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport in 2019. This added Fort Lauderdale as a new seasonal destination and extended service year-round to Orlando.
“Our partnership with Swoop continues to grow, providing our community with more direct, low-cost travel options to visit and experience sought-after destinations across North America,” said Barry Rempel, President and CEO of Winnipeg Airports Authority.
In addition to affordability, WAA recognizes other factors can impact a person’s desire to travel such as the availability of accessible services.
In 2019, YWG was one of the first airports in Canada to launch Aira. The service helps travellers who are blind or have low vision gain real-time information about their surroundings by connecting with a live agent through smart glasses or a mobile app. WAA also partnered with WHILL to be one of the first airports in North America to trial an autonomous personal mobility device. The trial of the self-driving wheelchair marked the first step towards a much larger vision of being able to offer this service to passengers the moment they arrive at the airport right up until they board their flight.
WAA continued to prioritize customer experience and service in 2019 as a temporary bag drop system was put in place to allow for significant upgrades to be made to YWG’s Baggage Handling System. Once complete, the new system will be equipped to meet the needs of larger passenger volumes. A redevelopment project also took place past security near Gate 10 based on input from the community. An expanded Tim Hortons, a chic Bombay Sapphire Lounge and an additional escalator are all set to open this spring, giving customers more options before their flight.
On the airfield, WAA invested in a $24-million rehabilitation project for Runway 13/31. The restored runway is expected to be operational for continual use over the next 12 to 15 years. The extensive project took five months to complete and involved additional crews, technicians, engineer teams as well as collaboration between Nav Canada and several airlines.
The new 96,000-square-foot Ground Service Equipment building also significant progress in 2019 as cargo tenants are preparing to relocate into the facility in the coming months. This move supports the next step of YWG’s expansion plan - the new $62-million Air Cargo Logistics Facility, funded in part by a $30-million investment from the Federal government under the National Trade Corridors Fund, cementing Winnipeg’s reputation as a cargo hub.
The number of cargo planes landing at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport was up 4.98 per cent in 2019 compared to the previous year. Not only did more planes move goods in and out of the region but larger ones as well. This is apparent by the gross takeoff weight jumping 7.6 per cent in 2019.
“The significant growth in cargo traffic in 2019 demonstrates our strategic partnerships and investment in the airport’s cargo facilities are paying off,” said Rempel. “Everything from fresh cut flowers to agricultural equipment moves through Winnipeg Richardson International Airport, supporting Manitoba business, creating jobs and driving economic growth.”
As government and community partners help the airport flourish, WAA is committed to giving back. Among the initiatives supported in 2019 were Girls in Aviation Day and the annual Harvest Garden for Winnipeg Harvest. WAA also hosted the first Canadian CAPA Aviation Summit in September of 2019, bringing aviation leaders into Winnipeg from across North America.
Never a dull moment at YWG, WAA continues to reinvest in the airport to lead transportation innovation and growth in the heart of Canada with 2020 already off to a promising start.