QUÉBEC, March 1, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ - An increase in flight volume from 350 to over 420 flights a week in spite of upgrade work on the main runway, and traffic up by 3.4% to reach a new high of 1,670,880 passengers, an expansion project delivered on time and on budget, and an enviably sound financial situation: the year that just ended will henceforth be associated with growth, vision and pride for the Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB). Following the company's Annual Public Meeting and in light of the 2017 Annual Report, Chairman of the Board André Fortin and President and CEO Gaëtan Gagné painted a glowing picture. The year 2018 is looking just as exciting, as American Airlines has increased its operations here by over 50% with a new daily flight between Québec City and Philadelphia.
YQB 2018, a major project to accommodate continued growth
December 11, 2017, marked a milestone for Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport as it received passengers in its new international terminal for the first time.
"This historic moment is the culmination of a collective dream first imagined not quite ten years ago. If we are celebrating its success today, it is thanks to skilled professionals and workers who were all committed to delivering an infrastructure meeting the high standards our passengers deserve. Stimulated by the Passenger First® motto, we chose to adopt world class infrastructures to handle the expected growth in air traffic and thereby meet the needs of travelers from here and around the world," said Gaëtan Gagné, President and CEO of Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport.
A project completed on time and on budget
The YQB 2018 project is $277 million invested in a dozen construction and IT projects to offer our passengers the best possible experience. These include four new boarding bridges, self-service check-in terminals, automated self-service luggage lockers, charging stations for electronic devices, expanded food courts and a more varied food service, a four times larger duty-free shop, more convenient and better organized customs, automated self-service customs terminals, a larger capacity luggage room, more baggage carousels for international flights and state-of-the-art communications and display systems.
"We are extremely proud to have delivered this project on time and on budget. I am especially thankful to my team, and also to the thousands of workers who have given life to our dreams. You are people with heart and talent, driven by excellence and who strive ever higher," noted Mr. Gagné.
Phase 1 of the YQB 2018 project, to build the new international terminal, is now complete, Phase 2 work, to redevelop the former international sector, began in January 2018.
Another year of growth
Last year, 1,670,880 passengers passed through YQB, a 3.4% increase over 2016. This figure is particularly impressive given that the main runway was closed for 80 days for refurbishment while major infrastructure projects were also being completed. With the precious collaboration of the airlines, some 55,000 more passengers crossed our doors in 2017 than in 2016, or 1060 more per week, an amazing increase despite the ongoing construction projects.
Domestic traffic grew in 2017. The routes offered between YQB and the hubs of Montréal and Toronto have been very successful. As for international traffic, direct links were offered to the La Romana airport in the Dominican Republic and Roatan in Honduras. On June 15, 2017, WestJet substantially increased its service by adding 70 weekly flights to and from YQB, raising total weekly flights from 350 to 420.
A world class airport
Today, after striving to become a world class airport for ten years, YQB can boast "Mission Accomplished!" Its staff is motivated, meticulous, open to new technology and trained according to industry best practices to offer passengers a unique experience on par with the greatest airports in the world.
YQB was voted Best Airport in North America in the under 2 million passenger category for 2010, 2011 and 2013, according to Airport Service Quality (ASQ), with honourable mentions the other years. It also received a major distinction from the members of Priority Pass who designated the VIP Lounge as the best in North America in 2015, "Highly Commended" in 2016, and best again in 2017.
"Last year, many representatives from international airports, such as LaGuardia, Marseille, and others, visited our facilities to learn more about our state of the art technology to apply them in their own operations. These visits attest to the fact that we play with the big boys and our expertise is now recognized worldwide," added Mr. Gagné.
YQB's greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction efforts were also rewarded with a Level 1 from the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA), a global program established by Airport Council International (ACI). This accreditation confirms our firm intention to limit emissions from our own energy consumption and be an industry leader in the fight against climate change. The goal for 2018 is to further reduce our GHG emissions and earn Level 2 by implementing our air emissions management plan across all our services.
YQB has also been internationally recognized in being selected as host of the Routes Americas 2019 forum, ahead of five other North and South American cities.
A strong financial situation and a positive year
Aéroport de Québec inc. posted $8.3 million in profit in 2017. Sales were $61.9 million and operating costs $53.3 million. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were $25.2 million in 2017. All YQB profits are fully reinvested into the company to provide an ever better passenger experience.
"We are hugely pleased with the financial results obtained by YQB. We adopt a careful approach in risk management and reinvest in our infrastructures to increase our airport capacity and meet growing demand for services,", said Chairman of the Board, André Fortin.
The passenger at the heart of our actions
Putting passengers at the heart of our priorities has always been our core value at YQB. The main purpose of the expansions in recent years was to provide a greater choice of destinations at the best possible price. Creating sufficient capacity forces airlines to compete more, thereby reducing ticket prices. For example, a new carrier for the Québec-Montréal route pushed ticket prices down 71% for that segment, which is of course, to the delight of our passengers.
Next step: an American pre-clearance centre
Announced on March 10, 2016, by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then President Barack Obama, and also desired by 95% of the Québec City region's population (SOM survey), the imminent establishment of an American pre-clearance centre at YQB will have a major impact on the greater Québec City region. The centre will generate significant economic benefits and will reduce passenger connection times to the USA, while also opening up new business opportunities for Canadian and American carriers. It will also help further increase our regional tourism potential.
Bill C-23, An Act Respecting the Pre-Control of Persons and Goods in Canada and the United States, was passed on December 12, 2017. A new stage of negotiations is therefore beginning with the various stakeholders to ensure that the people of the greater Québec City region receive the same treatment as other regions of Canada currently benefiting from such a centre.
"This project will make it possible to offer new destinations in the United States, particularly toward airports not equipped with a customs control centre or whose customs services operate only at limited times. The economic windfall from an American pre-clearance centre will benefit both the business world and the tourist industry in general," concluded Mr. Gagné.
About Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB)
YQB is managed by Aéroport de Québec inc., the private corporation responsible, since November 1, 2000, for the management, operation, maintenance and development of Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport. Around a dozen carriers use YQB to offer connections to North America, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe, and daily flights to the main hubs in eastern North America.
SOURCE Aéroport de Québec
For further information: Mathieu Claise, Director of Communications and Public Relations, Aéroport de Québec inc., Tel.: 418 640-2700, ext. 2625