The Victoria International Airport is well on its way to recovery after the pandemic brought flights to screeching halt for nearly two years.
Depending on how that recovery and potential growth goes over the next two decades, major upgrades and expansions are being planned.
All of this was laid out in the airport’s master plan for 2023 to 2042, which was completed recently as part of its decennial review of big-picture plans.
Potential development projects are split into two main phases: Work taking place between 2023 and 2032, and work taking place between 2033 and 2042.
“It really is to ensure you are monitoring demand and to make sure your facilities can accommodate and enable growth,” said airport president and CEO Geoff Dickson. “You really want to understand how if all the predicted growth comes to fruition, how are you going to stage the various investments and builds.”
In the first decade of the plan, potential upgrades include extending the airport’s main runway, aprons and taxiways to more comfortably accommodate larger aircraft serving long-haul routes, expanding Electra Boulevard and adding a new roundabout at a new intersection with Willingdon Road, expanding parking and continuing improvements to the recreational path in the area.
The first phase could also include an expansion to the eastern side of the existing terminal in order to accommodate more check-in desks, more outbound baggage handling space and office space for airlines.
The western side of the terminal could also be expanded to accommodate more departure gates, inbound international baggage handling space, and pre-boarding security screening space.
Dickson said the plans have been formed based on the airport’s traffic recovery so far from the pandemic – 2022 closed off with traffic around 75 per cent of what it was in 2019 – and early predictions on how passenger traffic will grow between now and 2042, where estimates in the report range between 4.1 million and 2.5 million passengers annually.
“This is a vision, a 20-year what could be, not necessarily what will be,” he said. “It’s going to depend on what traffic demand materializes.”
Because of the dramatic impact the pandemic has had on the industry, Dickson said it is difficult to predict with any accuracy what passenger demand will actually look like. That’s why the airport plans on using 2023 and possibly 2024 to evaluate real-world data and adjust their projections for growth and refine investment plans.
A lesson reinforced during the pandemic and reflected in the report is the need for the airport to diversify its revenue streams, Dickson said.
That’s why part of the master plan’s vision is focused on leasing commercial lots currently available on airport property, improving the infrastructure around them to make more lots available as demand increases, and in the longer-term phase, potentially closing one of the airport’s secondary runways both to allow further expansion of the terminal, and to free up more space for commercial leases.