Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau vague on Liberal's airport privatization plans

News Aug 17, 2017 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau reiterated his government’s decision not to release a report on airport privatization conducted by Credit Suisse AG.

But Garneau, who toured Hamilton International Airport Aug. 14, said that doesn’t mean the Liberals have abandoned the idea of privatizing airports.

“The issue is still under study,” said Garneau. “That is an issue the government is examining. When we have something to say, we will say it.”

In the 2015 federal election, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promised to “raise the bar on transparency and accountability.”

Garneau said the report is under the authority of Finance Canada and “they have indicated it is confidential.”

The federal Liberals earlier this year confirmed they gave the investment bank a veto on the release of any information related to the study. The bank has indicated information from the report would impact the company’s financial and commercial interests.

The government hired the firm to conduct the study in the fall of 2016. The Liberals have also refused to reveal how much it paid for the report. The government declined a written request from the Conservatives to disclose the cost of the contract. The work was completed Jan. 31, 2017.

Privatizing airports is a controversial idea even among Canada’s airports. Airport authorities in Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver are opposed to the idea, while Toronto’s Pearson airport officials have indicated partial privatization of the facility would raise needed capital that would be invested into public transit.

Critics have stated privatizing airports would lead to higher prices and less service.

Hamilton International Airport is publicly owned, but is managed by TradePort International Corp. a subsidiary of Vantage Airport Group. In 1996 it signed a 40-year lease agreement with the city.

While at the Hamilton airport, Garneau praised TradePort for the “growth” of the facility over the years. After studying the data from the first part of 2017, he said “it’s quite an impressive leap from the figures of 2016. More than 100 per cent.”

Hamilton airport has more than doubled the number of passengers in the first six months of 2017 compared to last year, according to data released by the airport, a day prior to Garneau’s visit.

Through June this year 269,901 passengers flew into and out of the airport, an increase of 127 per cent from 2016, when only 118,890 passengers use the facility.

Local critics have blamed the airport for allowing passenger numbers to drop, almost 100,000 from 2009, and instead have been focusing on the more lucrative cargo business. But over the last year with the establishment of discount airlines, including the recently renamed Flair Airlines from NewLeaf Travel, and WestJet, passenger numbers have started to rebound.

Hamilton has long struggled to attract and keep regular passenger service. From March 2000 to January 2004, it was WestJet’s eastern hub and handled one million passengers a year. But WestJet relocated to Toronto’s Pearson Airport and passenger volumes dropped.

Cargo traffic is up 19 per cent so far in 2017, which Garneau said indicates Hamilton’s airport is “the most important airport in Canada for cargo express.”

The airport expects the number of passengers to reach half a million by the end of 2017. That would be higher than passenger totals for 2013 to 2015, which only reached 350,000.

The airport has hired an extra 100 people due to the higher passenger and cargo volumes.

As for the future for airports in the area, Garneau said the federal government is waiting for a study on projected passenger growth over the next decades and will determine if a new airport is required in Pickering. He said the study is scheduled to be completed next year.

“The lands were expropriated many, many years ago to specifically address the need for an airport. It will look at the projected traffic, growth in the GTA,” said Garneau. “We’ll see what these numbers tell us. It will give us a better idea whether to plan for another airport or not.”

A 2011 federal study stated southern Ontario’s existing network of airports, including in Hamilton, will reach capacity sometime between 2027 and 2037.

Hamilton officials have already expressed concerns about a potential airport in Pickering, arguing it would impact its airport passenger and cargo volumes.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau vague on Liberal's airport privatization plans

News Aug 17, 2017 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau reiterated his government’s decision not to release a report on airport privatization conducted by Credit Suisse AG.

But Garneau, who toured Hamilton International Airport Aug. 14, said that doesn’t mean the Liberals have abandoned the idea of privatizing airports.

“The issue is still under study,” said Garneau. “That is an issue the government is examining. When we have something to say, we will say it.”

In the 2015 federal election, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promised to “raise the bar on transparency and accountability.”

Garneau said the report is under the authority of Finance Canada and “they have indicated it is confidential.”

The federal Liberals earlier this year confirmed they gave the investment bank a veto on the release of any information related to the study. The bank has indicated information from the report would impact the company’s financial and commercial interests.

The government hired the firm to conduct the study in the fall of 2016. The Liberals have also refused to reveal how much it paid for the report. The government declined a written request from the Conservatives to disclose the cost of the contract. The work was completed Jan. 31, 2017.

Privatizing airports is a controversial idea even among Canada’s airports. Airport authorities in Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver are opposed to the idea, while Toronto’s Pearson airport officials have indicated partial privatization of the facility would raise needed capital that would be invested into public transit.

Critics have stated privatizing airports would lead to higher prices and less service.

Hamilton International Airport is publicly owned, but is managed by TradePort International Corp. a subsidiary of Vantage Airport Group. In 1996 it signed a 40-year lease agreement with the city.

While at the Hamilton airport, Garneau praised TradePort for the “growth” of the facility over the years. After studying the data from the first part of 2017, he said “it’s quite an impressive leap from the figures of 2016. More than 100 per cent.”

Hamilton airport has more than doubled the number of passengers in the first six months of 2017 compared to last year, according to data released by the airport, a day prior to Garneau’s visit.

Through June this year 269,901 passengers flew into and out of the airport, an increase of 127 per cent from 2016, when only 118,890 passengers use the facility.

Local critics have blamed the airport for allowing passenger numbers to drop, almost 100,000 from 2009, and instead have been focusing on the more lucrative cargo business. But over the last year with the establishment of discount airlines, including the recently renamed Flair Airlines from NewLeaf Travel, and WestJet, passenger numbers have started to rebound.

Hamilton has long struggled to attract and keep regular passenger service. From March 2000 to January 2004, it was WestJet’s eastern hub and handled one million passengers a year. But WestJet relocated to Toronto’s Pearson Airport and passenger volumes dropped.

Cargo traffic is up 19 per cent so far in 2017, which Garneau said indicates Hamilton’s airport is “the most important airport in Canada for cargo express.”

The airport expects the number of passengers to reach half a million by the end of 2017. That would be higher than passenger totals for 2013 to 2015, which only reached 350,000.

The airport has hired an extra 100 people due to the higher passenger and cargo volumes.

As for the future for airports in the area, Garneau said the federal government is waiting for a study on projected passenger growth over the next decades and will determine if a new airport is required in Pickering. He said the study is scheduled to be completed next year.

“The lands were expropriated many, many years ago to specifically address the need for an airport. It will look at the projected traffic, growth in the GTA,” said Garneau. “We’ll see what these numbers tell us. It will give us a better idea whether to plan for another airport or not.”

A 2011 federal study stated southern Ontario’s existing network of airports, including in Hamilton, will reach capacity sometime between 2027 and 2037.

Hamilton officials have already expressed concerns about a potential airport in Pickering, arguing it would impact its airport passenger and cargo volumes.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau vague on Liberal's airport privatization plans

News Aug 17, 2017 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau reiterated his government’s decision not to release a report on airport privatization conducted by Credit Suisse AG.

But Garneau, who toured Hamilton International Airport Aug. 14, said that doesn’t mean the Liberals have abandoned the idea of privatizing airports.

“The issue is still under study,” said Garneau. “That is an issue the government is examining. When we have something to say, we will say it.”

In the 2015 federal election, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promised to “raise the bar on transparency and accountability.”

Garneau said the report is under the authority of Finance Canada and “they have indicated it is confidential.”

The federal Liberals earlier this year confirmed they gave the investment bank a veto on the release of any information related to the study. The bank has indicated information from the report would impact the company’s financial and commercial interests.

The government hired the firm to conduct the study in the fall of 2016. The Liberals have also refused to reveal how much it paid for the report. The government declined a written request from the Conservatives to disclose the cost of the contract. The work was completed Jan. 31, 2017.

Privatizing airports is a controversial idea even among Canada’s airports. Airport authorities in Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver are opposed to the idea, while Toronto’s Pearson airport officials have indicated partial privatization of the facility would raise needed capital that would be invested into public transit.

Critics have stated privatizing airports would lead to higher prices and less service.

Hamilton International Airport is publicly owned, but is managed by TradePort International Corp. a subsidiary of Vantage Airport Group. In 1996 it signed a 40-year lease agreement with the city.

While at the Hamilton airport, Garneau praised TradePort for the “growth” of the facility over the years. After studying the data from the first part of 2017, he said “it’s quite an impressive leap from the figures of 2016. More than 100 per cent.”

Hamilton airport has more than doubled the number of passengers in the first six months of 2017 compared to last year, according to data released by the airport, a day prior to Garneau’s visit.

Through June this year 269,901 passengers flew into and out of the airport, an increase of 127 per cent from 2016, when only 118,890 passengers use the facility.

Local critics have blamed the airport for allowing passenger numbers to drop, almost 100,000 from 2009, and instead have been focusing on the more lucrative cargo business. But over the last year with the establishment of discount airlines, including the recently renamed Flair Airlines from NewLeaf Travel, and WestJet, passenger numbers have started to rebound.

Hamilton has long struggled to attract and keep regular passenger service. From March 2000 to January 2004, it was WestJet’s eastern hub and handled one million passengers a year. But WestJet relocated to Toronto’s Pearson Airport and passenger volumes dropped.

Cargo traffic is up 19 per cent so far in 2017, which Garneau said indicates Hamilton’s airport is “the most important airport in Canada for cargo express.”

The airport expects the number of passengers to reach half a million by the end of 2017. That would be higher than passenger totals for 2013 to 2015, which only reached 350,000.

The airport has hired an extra 100 people due to the higher passenger and cargo volumes.

As for the future for airports in the area, Garneau said the federal government is waiting for a study on projected passenger growth over the next decades and will determine if a new airport is required in Pickering. He said the study is scheduled to be completed next year.

“The lands were expropriated many, many years ago to specifically address the need for an airport. It will look at the projected traffic, growth in the GTA,” said Garneau. “We’ll see what these numbers tell us. It will give us a better idea whether to plan for another airport or not.”

A 2011 federal study stated southern Ontario’s existing network of airports, including in Hamilton, will reach capacity sometime between 2027 and 2037.

Hamilton officials have already expressed concerns about a potential airport in Pickering, arguing it would impact its airport passenger and cargo volumes.