Offering a boost to a beleaguered organization, the federal government has pledged $2.6 million to the Greater Sudbury Airport toward infrastructure needs.
Capital spending has largely fallen by the wayside since the pandemic hit in early 2020, which saddled the airport with a significant drop in travellers alongside various continued expenses.
The funding announced on June 28 will help fill this infrastructure gap, Greater Sudbury Airport CAO Todd Tripp told Sudbury.com.
It’ll cover some efforts to repair “wear and tear” issues, he said, and “more importantly, it’s upgrading to new infrastructure.”
The runways are currently lit by incandescent bulbs, which will soon be replaced by LEDs, which Tripp said last longer, reduce associated electrical costs by approximately 65 per cent, and prove more efficient during the winter months.
The funding will also help with various infrastructure changes at the airport most travellers are unlikely to notice.
“Over the years, Transport Canada changes regulations and changes things as they go to make them safer or they see things differently, so we’ll make sure we’re up to the new standards of airport regulations,” Tripp said, citing corner radius changes to accommodate new aircraft as an example.
The funding announcement was made by local Liberal MPs Marc Serré (Nickel Belt) and Viviane Lapointe (Sudbury), and follows a July 2021 federal investment of $3.5 million toward plugging a budget hole left.
While last year’s funding targeted an operational shortfall, this week’s investment looks at sustaining the organization’s long-term viability, Serré told Sudbury.com.
Although air travel is on the rise, it currently sits at approximately 60 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers and will require external assistance to ensure the airport is able to meet future demands, Serré said.
“We’re going to make sure that the airport has the infrastructure in place, because Sudbury is known for mining, but there’s also SNOLAB, there’s also post-secondary institutions, there’s tourism, there’s a whole slew of other activities around the airport that are so important for economic development.”
Air travel has become bottlenecked in recent weeks as larger airports have adjusted to increasing air traffic volumes by rehiring staff, but Tripp said the Greater Sudbury Airport remains ready to take on growing passenger traffic.
“We are literally a feed for the globe from here,” he said. “If you go through that security door over there, you can get anywhere in the world with a connecting flight out of Toronto. That is huge, so we have to make sure that we are fully on, ready to go when the traffic starts to come back fully.”