Air Access is Critical for Economic Vitality!
Excluding people - what is the lifeline of a community? I would argue that air infrastructure and services are so vital that without them a community can become economically stagnant.
Air service and infrastructure means:
Ability to reach export markets for business expansion and growth. In an export-dependent province, which generates over $12 billion in provincial GDP, air access is critical for the region, which encompasses over 4,186 businesses (Hoover 2016).
Ability to attract new businesses and investment. Air access is a key variable during the decision-making process with site selectors and C-level executives.
Sector growth and cluster development. The continued growth of sectors like information & communications technologies, bio sciences and engineering relies on air access. The demand will only increased through the emergence of new areas like cybersecurity and smart grid.
More conferences and conventions. Conferences translate to an economic impact of $324 per day per delegate, which means local spending (hotels, restaurants and shopping).
Increased passenger traffic through tourism/visitors, post-secondary educational students studying here, and newcomers/general populus.
Accommodating our large military community, whose personnel are dependent on excellent air infrastructure. Currently, there are 6,500 military personnel and 1,000 civilians working from CFB Gagetown with a local economic impact of $220 million.
Originally designed to only accommodate 200,000 passengers, the airport exceed its capacity over ten years ago. The Fredericton International Airport is shovel ready having completed the necessary studies and plans to commence construction. Through sound fiscal management for over 15 years, they have also planned for a $10 million investment in this project, and are seeking partnership investments with the provincial and federal governments for the remaining $20 million.
The airport has a significant impact on our regional economy generating $24 million in GDP, translating to 513 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, $15 million in labour income, $13.2 million in consumer spending, and $8.5 million in taxes (Tacit Elements 2016). The airport expansion will also create an additional 572 FTE jobs through the construction - resulting in $41.5 million in GDP impact!
Despite capacity constraints, the Fredericton International Airport, led by CEO, Johanne Gallant, has done a tremendous job enhancing existing air services, as well as adding new flights like Porter Airline’s recent Fredericton to Ottawa connection. This provides fliers with increased flexibility and more options to reach customers, and makes the Region more attractive as a destination to do business, host conferences or to visit.
In 2016, Fredericton’s Census Agglomeration population alone has grown from 98,000 (2011) to almost 102,000. Add to this the Town of Oromocto, Local Service Districts and the entire catchment basis of the airport extending to Edmundston, the airport’s capacity conundrum is only going to become more exacerbated , and will be a deterrent to enable future growth and investment.
We have witnessed what a state-of-the-art airport can do for sector growth when we look down the road to Moncton. With excellent air infrastructure and access, they have been able to grow a booming transportation/distribution sector among others sectors.
Time is of the essence, and we urge our federal and provincial stakeholders to consider this a top priority for the economic vitality of New Brunswick’s Capital Region!
Laurie Guthrie, EcD, BIS
Economic Development & Marketing Specialist
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