QUEBEC CITY — Paying incentives to travel agencies is just one element of YQB’s new recovery plan, designed to further the airport’s role as a driver of economic development for the region.
Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) has unveiled a five-pronged plan that will generate significant economic benefits, strengthening the economy of not just the Quebec City area but all of Northern and Eastern Quebec.
Like all airports across Canada, YQB was hit hard by COVID-19, with flight volumes evaporating and operating revenues plummeting by 88%. Based on forecasts by industry experts, the airport estimates that traffic won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
With this in mind, the plan, says Stéphane Poirier, President and CEO of YQB, will help the airport better manage the fallout of the pandemic.
“This recovery plan includes investments that will help us not just get through this global crisis, but come out stronger, equipped with levers to generate growth, reduce our vulnerability and strengthen and develop the entire region,” he says. “That said, while this plan is promising, we cannot afford to go it alone. This plan will not see the light of day without the financial support of the provincial and federal governments and the support of the City and all of the stakeholders in our area. This needs to be a project for the whole region, supported by its business community and its leaders.”
The plan is as follows:
1. Optimization of the catchment area: YQB’s geographical region where potential passengers are located needs to optimized. Before the pandemic, it was losing 1.3 million passengers to other areas, creating a need to generate traffic on departing flights. YQB intends to realize its full potential through revising parking fees, paying incentives to travel agencies, launching initiatives to add a local touch to the terminal, and releasing a promotional campaign once the pandemic is over.
2. Consolidation of regional air services: As part of the provincial Ministry of Transport’s task force on regional air transportation, YQB showed that using the airport as a hub for an optimized regional network would be economically viable. Moreover, YQB needs to be able to count on that traffic to expand its international routes. Finally, Quebec City has the infrastructure and equipment needed to host this type of regional network.
3. Creation of an intermodal logistics centre: Building an intermodal airfreight centre at YQB would allow goods to be transported by air or truck, then trans-shipped. More than ever, the financial contributions of airfreight have become essential to the viability of commercial routes. This would come at an estimated cost of $25 million.
4. Development of an airport park: YQB is seeking to develop 1.2 million square metres of land, a key element of the recovery plan since industrial parks in the region are 97% full. This project would involve three phases and an investment of some $70 million.
5. Opening of a U.S. pre-clearance centre: Although it is not a short-term priority, this centre is still considered essential as opening up to international markets remains a major challenge for the appeal of the Capitale-Nationale area. In the meantime, YQB is aiming to start discussing funding possibilities with different levels of government. The project cost of the centre is set at $75 million.