The mayor of St. John’s Thursday welcomed news of the city airport’s expansion plans, but says the new instrument landing system — still unfunded — is just as important.
“I think it’s absolutely terrific. This is a long-term expansion, it involves nearly $150 million dollars, and it recognizes that the St. John’s International Airport is the gateway to the province,” said Mayor Dennis O’Keefe. “The benefit is a provincial benefit right across Newfoundland and Labrador.”
O’Keefe praised the plans to expand capacity and improve security, as well as adding restaurants and amenities to improve the experience for travellers who have to spend more time in airports due to increased security measures or being fogged in.
“It’s so important that the airport experience be nice and comfortable and be one that people will remember,” he said.
The mayor said the new $25.8-million industry landing system — still hung up without funding approval from provincial and federal government partners — is just as necessary as the terminal and ground improvements, because it would improve the airport’s ability to land planes in foggy weather.
“I’m really, really hoping that pretty soon the other two levels of government will make the announcement that they’re going to partner with the airport authority to put that landing system in place,” he said.
O’Keefe said he didn’t think the $5 increase to the airport improvement fee — bringing it to $20 per departing passenger — to help pay for the improvements would be a sticking point for most people.
“I think people will accept that. More and more people are travelling, and more and more families are travelling,” he said. “People understand the benefit of it and the costs attached to it.”