Published on : Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Airports in Hamilton, Ont., and Abbotsford, B.C., that have traditionally played second fiddle to Vancouver International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport, were buzzing last week as low-cost WestJet offshoot Swoop launched service between the two, catering to the country’s most price-sensitive passengers.
Cathie Puckering, chief executive of John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport feels that it has been a crazy week. This airport had got an additional boost when Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA announced plans last week to enter Canada and offer direct service to Dublin next spring.
Following an 80 per cent increase in passengers last year, the airport hopes renewed interest from airlines will help spur a return to its heyday in 2003 when it accommodated one million passengers.
Hamilton, which is also Canada’s top domestic cargo airport, flew nearly 600,000 passengers last year, well short of its capacity to handle more than three million people. Interest waned after WestJet moved its eastern Canadian base of operations to Toronto Pearson following Air Canada’s merger with Canadian Airlines and Globespan Airways ceased operations to Europe.
Established in 1940 as a military flight school, civil flights began in 1964 after military activities ended. Management of the airport changed several times before ownership was transferred in 1996 to the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth, which in turn contracted a private company to operate it for 40 years.
Airlines are attracted to Hamilton due to fees that are 30 to 50 per cent lower than Pearson’s. Its smaller size cuts the amount of time required for passengers to get to departure gates and allows planes to spend less time on the ground between flights.