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Charlottetown Airport runway rehab project gets $8.1M federal funding boost

Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority.
Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority. - Terrence McEachern

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. -

The Charlottetown Airport Authority’s $18-million runway rehabilitation project got some federal funding help on Friday.

“We can have the best products in the world, but if you can’t get them to the marketplace … and if you do not get them there in time, then you’re not in the game,” said Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay, minister of agriculture and agri-food, who announced an $8.1-million federal investment in the project under the National Trade Corridors Fund. Also speaking at the funding announcement at the airport was Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Charlottetown MP Sean Casey.

Airport CEO Doug Newson said that hearing the $8.1 million announcement gave him “chills.”

“This is a project that we’ve been working on for a long time, and funding that we’ve been in discussions and negotiations with the federal government for a long time,” he said.

Newson then cited a familiar saying in the industry.

“A mile of highway gets you one mile. But a mile of runway gets you the world,” he said.

Once completed, the runway will be safer and modern that meets the latest industry design standards, Newson added.

Related: Final piece of runway improvement project underway at Charlottetown Airport this week

The federal contribution covers 45 per cent of the total cost. The province is also contributing five-per cent, or $900,000. The remaining 50 per cent is funded from the airport authority’s capital reserves.

“If we hadn’t gotten this funding, we would have been borrowing significant amount of debt. It’s a user-pay system at the airport, so it eventually would have trickled back to customers, passengers, airlines. And, most likely would have resulted in a higher cost of air travel in and out of Charlottetown,” said Newson.

The Charlottetown airport sits on federally-owned land. As a result, until changes last year, the airport authority – a not-for-profit corporation – was not able to access the National Trade Corridors Fund.

“We’ve been advocating to get access to this fund to level the playing field with other small airports that can get access to similar, other programs for infrastructure. So, by getting this funding today, it will allow us to keep our costs low, maybe even lower, and thus generate more traffic for P.E.I.,” he said.

Construction on the project as well as the recent $7-million runway expansion, is expected to create 180 jobs in the province.

The main runway rehabilitation project involves grading and drainage work, storm water infrastructure replacement and reconstruction of the pavement structure. The project also involves rehabilitation work on three connecting taxiways.

Work is already underway on the project with the expectation to open the main runway sometime in November, said Newson.

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