Air­port pas­sen­gers, traf­fic fell in 2016

Fort McMurray Today - - LOCAL NEWS - vm­c­der­mott@post­media.com

A com­bi­na­tion of the May 2016 wild­fire and an eco­nomic down­turn meant the Fort McMur­ray In­ter­na­tional Air­port saw a drop in vis­i­tors last year.

In the air­port au­thor­ity’s Eco­nomic Im­pact Re­port for 2016, 740,000 peo­ple were recorded to have passed through the air­port last year, as op­posed to the 1.1 mil­lion peo­ple in 2015.

Ap­prox­i­mately 45 per cent of those peo­ple in­di­cated they were part of the re­gion’s com­muter work­force. The vast ma­jor­ity of th­ese work­ers lived and stayed at work camps, with an es­ti­mated 4,342 in­di­vid­u­als rent­ing ac­com­mo­da­tions within Fort McMur­ray’s ur­ban area in­stead.

Even as thou­sands of aid or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­sur­ance ad­justers, con­trac­tors and other peo­ple as­so­ci­ated with the re­build spent the sum­mer fly­ing into Fort McMur­ray, which re­opened to com­mer­cial air traf­fic on June 10 af­ter the wild­fire, the num­ber of air­craft land­ing at the air­port still fell.

There were more than 46,000 air­craft that passed through the air­port last year, while 2015 recorded 65,000 air­craft.

How­ever, the air­port au­thor­ity says the eco­nomic im­pact to the re­gion has still been a pos­i­tive one.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the air­port sup­ported 900 skilled di­rect jobs, gen­er­at­ing $46 mil­lion in di­rect wages and pro­duc­ing $354 mil­lion in to­tal eco­nomic out­put.

Even the com­muters who flew into Fort McMur­ray and lived within city lim­its spent a to­tal of $113 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

A to­tal of 1,860 in­di­rect jobs, such as pi­lots and main­te­nance work­ers, and $96 mil­lion in wages were sup­ported across Al­berta.

The study also noted the air­port, staff and pas­sen­gers con­trib­uted $25 mil­lion in tax rev­enues, with $4 mil­lion go­ing to the Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Wood Buf­falo in the form of prop­erty taxes.

The most taxes went to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, with nearly $17 mil­lion go­ing to Ot­tawa.The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment re­ceived $5 mil­lion in tax rev­enue.

In­clud­ing mul­ti­plier ef­fects, air­port op­er­a­tions sup­ported $170 mil­lion in to­tal GDP.

“Air­ports are not suc­cess­ful on their own, com­mu­ni­ties make air­ports suc­cess­ful and air­ports can drive eco­nomic growth,” said RJ Steen­stra, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Fort McMur­ray Air­port Au­thor­ity, in a state­ment. “We pro­vide a vi­tal trans­porta­tion ser­vice to the re­gion while our em­ploy­ees and busi­nesses sup­port our com­mu­nity’s econ­omy and di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion.”

SUPPLIED IM­AGE/FORT MCMUR­RAY AIR­PORT AU­THOR­ITY

An in­bound flight un­loads pas­sen­gers at the Fort McMur­ray In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Mon­day, June 9, 2014.

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