Weather Issues have Been Legitimately Unforeseeable and No One’s Fault
Understandably, media has been milking the discontent of outbound travellers and the tourists alike, as our foggy July weather cancels and delays flights, but the airport would like to be clear on some statistics, such as “95% of all flights have arrived on schedule since runway construction began on June 1st.”
With regard to factoring in how weather might affect their construction, in fairness, “extensive weather analysis was conducted that incorporated 30 years of weather data.” No one could have known this summer would be this bad. Still, as of this morning, their secondary runway is reopened to its full length, and they’re still on target to end 2015’s six-month construction project in November. Undertaking six months of construction, in epically dismal weather, and only having 5% of flights be affected is to be celebrated. Even if that’s been 216 flights over 50 days.
By 2016, Fog Will No Longer Effect Departures and Landings in St. John’s
Much of this construction is about ending the effect of fog on flight delays in St. John’s. So we ought to be excited by it. By spring of 2016, our airport will be one of only four Canadian airports equipped with “Category III Instrument Landing Systems (CAT III ILS).” CAT III ILS technology will allow planes to land and take-off in conditions of very low visibility – ie the rain drizzle and fog. Imagine: no more not being able to land in cold, foggy St. John’s after the long haul home from your tropical or European vacations.
CAT III will remove what the airport refers to as “a weather challenge that has had an impact on our airport’s operations and our region’s reputation for decades.” Our newly revamped runways are expected to be operational in full capacity for the spring of 2016.
By 2020, We’ll Have Twice the Airport We Have Now
Other, longer-terms plans for the airport include doubling in size by 2020. That means more flights in and out of here, finally. It’ll also be great for tourism and conventions, a billion buck industry here already, as St. John’s will be able to welcome as many as 2 million travellers by 2020.
For the last five years, passenger traffic has been consistently growing at unprecedented rates, with an annual growth rate of more than double the national average. An estimated 1.6 million passengers passed through our airport in 2014. As a result of this passenger growth, $245 million is being invested into the airport to ensure its safety and operational integrity; to improve the accessibility of the Airport during low-visibility conditions; and to support the anticipated growth in passengers to 2 million by 2020.
How will This $245 Million Transform the Airport?
In many ways, including the CAT III system that will eliminate the effect of fog on landings and departures, a much more roomy and comfortable departures lounge, more baggage carousels, more food outlets, and more retail options for passengers in the secure area. More parking, more departure gates, more flights out of here, more everything.