Airfield modernization and sustained passenger traffic among YSJ’s 2019 highlights
Saint John – The Saint John Airport (YSJ) shared the details of its 2019 performance and acknowledged the challenges of 2020 related to COVID-19, as part of its first-ever virtual annual general meeting.
“Over the last year, we demonstrated our commitment to passenger experience by making investments to modernize our airfield and services; increasing and introducing new safety, security and climate change measures; and improving our visibility and engagement with the community,” said Saint John Airport President and CEO Derrick Stanford. “The sudden and devastating impacts of COVID-19 in 2020 add even more value and appreciation for what we were able to advance and move last year, knowing that the near-term will be focused on the most immediate needs as we work to return to better days.”
The Saint John Airport was under construction through much of 2019, opening a completely transformed and modernized airfield that includes the airport’s two runways, taxiways and tarmac. As a result of this major capital project, YSJ now meets the latest safety and technology standards, resulting in improved navigation for pilots and fewer flights cancellations and delays.
“The airport modernization project has been the biggest the Airport’s history. It was a major undertaking that took 18 months, hired local companies, and added an additional $21 million in economic impact for the Saint John region” said Board Chair Larry Hachey. “These vital improvements have allowed us to enhance navigation, visibility, and landing capability for pilots and airline partners.”
Passenger traffic remained solid, with 281,069 passengers travelling through YSJ in 2019, maintaining the record-breaking growth achieved in the two consecutive years prior. Despite a challenging year in the industry overall – with most airports in Canada experiencing declines attached to changing aircraft capacity – YSJ experienced flat growth, a slight 0.4 per cent decrease in passenger traffic from 2018.
“We’ve worked hard to enhance the passenger experience at YSJ with new and improved services, carriers and routes, and it’s paid off,” Stanford said. “Our passenger traffic in 2019 would have continued on its growth path had it not been for a slowdown in global economic conditions and changing aircraft capacity. Sustaining a passenger base is a tremendous outcome in a tumultuous year, and something we do not expect to see in 2020.”
Some of the measures introduced in 2019 to enhance passenger experience include the release of a new version of YSJ’s FlySJ mobile app, the establishment of a new quarterly email newsletter, the installation of FEEDBACK NOW kiosks, and an inaugural stakeholder survey that saw the vast majority of respondents describe YSJ as convenient, competitive and reliable airport that meets their travel needs.
Additional 2019 highlights referenced include:
- The Airport’s Biometric Digital ID project to enhance airport security was recognized at the Global Aviation Security Symposium as a leading-edge security system that surpasses the world-class standards found at the largest airports in the world.
- Steps were taken to reduce YSJ’s carbon footprint and prepare for the impacts of climate change. The Airport received level on certification from the Airport Carbon Accreditation, a voluntary global carbon management for airports that independently assess and recognizes airports’ efforts to manage and reduce their CO2 emissions.
- The Saint John Airport’s commitment to responsible and environment business practices was also acknowledged with an investment of $205,000 made through Transport Canada’s Transportation Asset Risks Assessment Program. This federal investment recognizes the risk of climate change and will allow YSJ to conduct an impact assessment of extreme climate change, preventing future tolls on its infrastructure, productivity and economy. YSJ was the first Canadian airport to benefit from this newly created fund.
“I thank our board, management team, staff and the community for their support in 2019, and for their continued support as we navigate and prepare to emerge from the 2020 pandemic period, stronger and better than ever,” Stanford said. “Although the challenges associated with the steep and sudden impacts of COVID-19 are great, we’re determined to see this unprecedented trial through, until travel resumes.”
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