Airport passengers, traffic fell in 2016
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.”
An inbound flight unloads passengers at the Fort McMurray International Airport on Monday, June 9, 2014.