Ex­pand­ing tastes

Seven new din­ing op­tions and more re­tail shops com­ing for de­par­ture lounge

The Western Star - - Front Page - BY KENN OLIVER SALTWIRE NET­WORK

This time next year, pas­sen­gers trav­el­ling out of St. John’s In­ter­na­tional Air­port will be able to en­joy a beer or glass of wine, have a sit-down meal and even do a lit­tle shop­ping be­fore their flight de­parts.

This time next year, pas­sen­gers trav­el­ling out of St. John’s In­ter­na­tional Air­port will be able to en­joy a beer or glass of wine, have a sit-down meal and even do a lit­tle shop­ping be­fore their flight de­parts.

Seven new din­ing op­tions and a num­ber of new re­tail lo­ca­tions will open in the east-end ex­pan­sion of the ter­mi­nal build­ing as part of the first phase of the air­port author­ity’s mas­sive 10-year, $200-mil­lion im­prove­ment and ex­pan­sion plan.

“When we started this process a cou­ple of years ago we did a lot of mar­ket re­search and spoke to a lot of pas­sen­gers and our em­ploy­ees to get a sense of what peo­ple were look­ing for,” ex­plains Marie Man­ning, the air­port’s di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

Be­cause the con­tracts are still be­ing fi­nal­ized, Man­ning isn’t able to con­firm any of the fran­chises ru­moured to be on the way. How­ever, she con­firmed that, with the ex­cep­tion of one food out­let, all of them are known com­modi­ties in the lo­cal mar­ket­place.

“We’re pretty ex­cited about it and I’m look­ing for­ward to ac­tu­ally be­ing able to re­lease who’s com­ing in,” she said, not­ing the news should break some­time in the next cou­ple months.

Cur­rently, the only food op­tions in the de­par­ture lounge are a tiny Tim Hor­tons out­let op­er­ated by On the Go and a Jump­ing Bean kiosk.

There are so few op­tions, Man­ning ex­plained, be­cause the air­port as it ex­ists was de­signed prior to 9-11, when se­cu­rity re­quire­ments weren’t as strict, which al­lowed peo­ple more time prior to go­ing through se­cu­rity.

The de­par­ture lounge will more than dou­ble in size as part of the east end ex­pan­sion and the pre-board­ing screen­ing area will move from its cur­rent home on the sec­ond floor — which

“The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple are look­ing for a mix­ture of lo­cal and na­tional brands and, from a food per­spec­tive, look­ing for healthy food op­tions as well as fast-food op­tions and a restau­rant-bar fa­cil­ity past se­cu­rity.” Marie Man­ning

will even­tu­ally be con­verted to con­ces­sion space — to the first floor, di­rectly to the right of the cur­rent check-in area.

The sec­ond phase of the ex­pan­sion, sched­uled to start in 2018, will fo­cus on the west end of the ter­mi­nal and is aimed at im­prov­ing ser­vices and fa­cil­i­ties for ar­riv­ing air­craft and pas­sen­gers. By 2021, the air­port ter­mi­nal will be twice its cur­rent size and mea­sure 387,000 square feet.

To fi­nance the im­prove­ments, the author­ity se­cured a $60-mil­lion bond and a $25-mil­lion line of credit. This year, that line of credit was in­creased to $40 mil­lion.

All of that is debt that has to be paid off and, as a pri­vate but not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, Man­ning says, the air­port’s “only real source of rev­enue for cap­i­tal projects” is the air­port im­prove­ment fee (AIF), which, as of July 1, in­creased from $30 to $35 for each pas­sen­ger fly­ing out of St. John’s.

In Ot­tawa, the AIF is $23 and has been since 1999. In Hal­i­fax, it’s $28. In Hamil­ton, which has ap­prox­i­mately the same pop­u­la­tion as New­found­land, the AIF has been $25 for the past four years.

Man­ning says the St. John’s fee is higher for a cou­ple of rea­sons. First, the cost of con­struc­tion here is higher than in other places, and the air­port here doesn’t see the same vol­ume of pas­sen­gers.

JOE GIB­BONS/SALTWIRE NET­WORK

As part of the first phase of the St. John’s In­ter­na­tional Air­port Author­ity’s mas­sive 10-year, $200-mil­lion im­prove­ment and ex­pan­sion plan, the de­par­ture lounge in the east end of the ter­mi­nal build­ing will fea­ture seven new din­ing op­tions and more...

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