FREDERICTON, NB – The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce praises the inclusion of National Airport System airports in the federal government’s National Trade Corridors Fund (“NTCF”) announced today by Transportation Minister Marc Garneau. The $2.1 billion fund over 11 years is part of the $10.1 billion announced for trade and transportation infrastructure in the government’s 2017 budget.
The Fredericton airport is one of 26 airports that form the national airport system. These airports have been identified as being strategically important to the country’s air travel system. However, NAS airports are excluded from ACAP funding - which was established to help airports with fewer than 525,000 annual passengers with capital project funding. Fredericton is one of six such airports that are small enough to otherwise need and receive ACAP funding but for this policy.
“This announcement clears the path for the Fredericton International Airport to receive much-needed federal funding for their long-planned expansion,” said Krista Ross, Fredericton Chamber of Commerce CEO. “We think the case for funding for the Fredericton airport is clear - the airport is currently operating at 85% over capacity for which it was designed and has grown passenger numbers for eight consecutive years.”
On top of the capacity and passenger numbers, Fredericton’s context is also important - New Brunswick is already the most export dependent province in the country and success in sectors such as biosciences, information and communications technology, engineering and many others means that the Fredericton Region is creating a hub of expertise that we can bring to the world.
The Fredericton International Airport is also an economic driver in its own right - a 2011 independent study found that the airport supported 586 jobs while projecting passenger traffic to reach 500,000 by 2030, which would support 1012 jobs and provide $41.5 million to provincial GDP.
“Easy air access is central to continuing to develop these areas as well as growing our economy and population through immigration,” added Ross. “We are trying to attract and retain entrepreneurial newcomers and other outside investors who have a global outlook and expect to have an airport that works for them. The same is true for local businesses - many of our high-growth industries with well-paying jobs do most or all of their work in other jurisdictions. Our current terminal is a drag on their growth and our region’s prosperity.”
At their 2016 annual general meeting and conference, 97.3% of delegates of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce passed a policy resolution supporting a change that would facilitate federal funding for the proposed expansion at the Fredericton International Airport. The resolution called on the government to include small “national airport system” airports, such as Fredericton’s, to be eligible to receive funding under the Airport Capital Assistance Program. This announcement and new fund effectively accomplishes the same result.
“Fredericton’s MP, Matt DeCourcey, deserves a lot of credit for pushing this issue with his federal colleagues and making the case for this change of course,” stated Ross. “Matt understands that this expansion is the top infrastructure priority for the capital region and has kept the lines of communication open as he has worked to make the project a reality - we commend him for his efforts.”
Through sound management of the past 15 years, the Fredericton International Airport Authority is prepared to put $10 million into its shovel-ready project (one of the few in the region), having already paid for the necessary studies, plans and specs. The Government of New Brunswick appears prepared to invest. Now that the critical barrier at the federal level has been lifted, it is time for all partners to coalesce around this much-needed expansion and move the region forward.
Fredericton Chamber of Commerce
With more than 950 members, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is one of Atlantic Canada’s largest chambers of commerce. A dynamic business organization, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is actively engaged in policy development that affects the competitiveness of our members and of the Canadian business environment. The Chamber’s vision is ‘Community Prosperity Through Business’.
Contact: Krista Ross, Fredericton Chamber of Commerce CEO – (506) 458-8006