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Dryden turns over airport management to private sector

Loomex Group to run municipally-owned regional airport
Dryden Airport (1)

The City of Dryden is handing the management of its airport over to a private operator.

Loomex Group, a Peterborough-based aviation firm, signed a contract with the northwestern Ontario municipality to manage the regional airport heading into 2020.

The move coincides with the retirement of airport manager Norm Sanders at year’s end.

The five-year contract is valued at $886,000. 

City CAO Roger Nesbitt said the departure of Sanders, a 35-year airport employee, played a role in their decision as part of a succession plan. Loomex came aboard through a city request for proposals process.

Loomex bills itself as a property management firm specializing in the aviation and aerospace sectors.

The company’s track record and experience in safety compliance, emergency management, airport operations, and other value-added services further factored into the city’s decision.

The airport will remain municipally-owned and staff will remain city employees. 

Loomex manages five airports in Ontario and Alberta, including both airports for the Municipality of Greenstone at Geraldton and Nakina.

“We really want to focus on business development at our airport,” said Nesbitt. “Loomex had a lot to offer in that sense.”

An emphasis will be placed on servicing current tenants and attracting new ones, both on the aviation and non-aviation side.

A major airport tenant is the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s district fire management centre, an employer of 200.

“A big part of the initial work around the development of the airport will be putting together a master plan,” said Nesbitt.

Opened in 1969 and situated 10 kilometres north of town, the airport has a 6,000-foot runway and occupies 238 hectares. Regularly scheduled passenger service is provided by Bearskin Airlines.

The city expects Loomex to market the airport’s location as a district transportation hub and showcase the facility’s capacity to grow.

“We have a lot of the infrastructure in place to support more development and we have the room to expand,” said Nesbitt. “We’d love to see more scheduled flights into Dryden from a business-commercial and from a tourism standpoint.”