Peterborough Airport (CYPQ): Outlook for Growth 

By: Trent Gervais, CMMIII, EMP, CEO, Loomex Group, Manager, Peterborough Airport

It is estimated that in 2021, Lester B.  Pearson Airport (GTAA) will reach capacity. A year ago Howard Eng, President and CEO, kicked off a regional working group that will define how Regional Airports in Central Ontario can relieve the growing pressures GTAA will be faced with in the future. Eng’s ongoing challenge includes the balance of competing on the World stage to be a top player as an international hub, with meeting the needs of regional travel and cargo business. 

Peterborough Airport (CYPQ) staff have been at the table with other regional airports to identify opportunities for Peterborough.  After engaging with other airports in the region it became very evident that Airports in Central Ontario working together as a “system of airports”, would not only assist the GTAA but would make Central Ontario’s Airports an attractive possibility for aerospace companies looking for a home. 

The group of participating airports includes; Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo, Niagara, Hamilton, GTAA, Oshawa, Kingston, Billy Bishop and Peterborough. Takeaways from the workshop included the decision to:

  • Summarize and share facts about the future of aviation for Southern Ontario
  • Hear from each airport about their aspirations for growth in the next 10 years
  • Identify emerging themes, “quick win” actions, emerging challenges, and approaches to realize opportunities
  • Discuss and align on a set of criteria to evaluate options to handle forecasted long-term growth as a region
  • Agree on next steps 

Included in the discussion has been the need for a ground transportation system that will meet the needs of Airport growth. The 407 extension is a positive for CYPQ, as it helps improve travel time to the GTA area, and also allows doors to open to attract clients from the GTA and Durham areas, to Peterborough. 

Airport leaders are working on how to maximize the potential of working together. Possibilities include joint marketing and identifying the airport capacities, such as available land for development. Airports will also partner to work with various levels of Government on projects such as funding or enhanced Government services to Airports; for example Customs, and CATSA.

It is estimated that 500,000 pilots and over 600,000 aircraft mechanics (AME’s) will retire in the next ten years in North America. Research and Development in Canada is another growing industry. It was reported by the Federal Government that in 2014, R&D contributed $29 billion to the GDP and employed 180,000 people. 

What does all this mean for the future of the Peterborough Airport and the Aerospace sector? 

In 2009, City Council adopted a business plan, which has guided staff on business development. The plan outlined the following areas with high potential:  Education, MRO’s (Maintenance & Overhaul Operators), Research and Development, Aerospace Manufacturing and Engine Overhaul businesses. The overall goal of the Airport is to be an industry leader and economic driver for the region. Major tenants such as the Seneca School of Aviation, Flying Colours, and Kadex not only provide employment but also provide unique services to the Aerospace Sector. 

The Peterborough Airport boasts the longest civil runway between Toronto and Ottawa, competitive serviced land for development, a streamlined construction process, assistance from Peterborough Economic Development, great proximity to Hwy 115 (407), an established aerospace sector in the region, and healthy partnerships with Fleming College and Trent University.  Work/life balance and quality of living are also important factors when companies consider relocating. Peterborough offers great opportunities for employees and their families who choose to locate here. 

The Peterborough Airport has been recognized by its peers for its innovative thinking. Carlson Wagonlit Stewart Travel’s destination charter flights are a great example. Overcoming many obstacles, Stewart Travel is meeting the demands of travellers wanting to fly locally to avoid the drive, higher cost and inconvenience of flying out of Pearson Airport. NextJet’s recent announcement to offer flights to Kitchener, Gatineau (Ottawa) and Montreal will not only help residents of the Peterborough region who travel for leisure or business, but will also be another tool for industry and tourism, to attract visitors to the region.

General Aviation has experienced some substantial growth as well. In the last six years close to thirty private hangars have been built at the Peterborough Airport. General Aviation does not just include small recreation aircraft but also includes twin engine and jet aircraft. 

Over the next few months the Peterborough Airport will continue to work with GTAA and regional airports to determine how it can share in the success of Pearson Airport, as well as how to attract new opportunities to Central Ontario. 

To be successful, the airport will continue on the development path it has been on since the business plan was established. Careful strategic growth that matches industry demand, coupled with strong partnerships, will ensure the success of the Airport. 

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