Any future upgrades to the Lloydminster airport may be put on hold as the aviation industry recovers from the effects of COVID-19.
City council was given their first look at the Airport Master Plan which will guide the development of the airport for the next 25 years. HM Aero Aviation Consulting began putting the plan together in August 2019 and completed it this April
Ben Crooks, who presented the report, estimates the airport brings in about $4 million to the city and its businesses and had a passenger demand of about 25,000 in 2019. He says they projected the number of passengers would nearly double to 47,000 in the next 10 years however, the pandemic would set those projections back by an estimated four years.
Mayor Gerald Aalbers says the airport is a considerable asset to the city and will continue to help with its growth in the future.
“I think that there are long-term benefits to our airport and we believe that it’s only going to get better. Once air travel starts to regain and some of the travel restrictions of interprovincial travel and international travel change we’ll see people take advantage of that.”
As part of the report, the firm took feedback from stakeholders who mentioned the airport is well maintained and well operated but the terminal is missing some amenities. The Lloydminster business community would like a daily morning flight to Calgary as well as more flight options to other cities such as Edmonton, Saskatoon and Regina.
Recommendations for future expansions included additional washrooms built in the terminal as well as a bigger space for baggage claim and arriving passengers. The plan also recommended changes to the parking lot as consultants heard that the turning lanes are too narrow.
Aalbers says city council and staff will be cautious when following the plan as they have to consider the current economic climate and the large costs for any expansions or upgrades.
“I would have a hard time, as taxpayers would think, [if] we need to expend the projected moneys that was talked about in the medium term and starting to advance it too soon. But, at the same token, we’ll continue the efforts to lobby to increase our service from WestJet and continue to encourage other carriers to consider Lloydminster in their travel so that we have options.”
The plan was accepted as information and any recommendations from it will come to city council at a later date.