A pair of new firefighting vehicles will roll into the Region of Waterloo International Airport courtesy of $3 million from Ottawa.
Federal Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra was in Breslau May 25 to announce the funding.
“These upgrades and safety equipment will help the airport maintain safe operations and Essential Air Services. It’s great news for everyone traveling through Waterloo,” Alghabra said.
This funding comes from the Airports Capital Assistance Program, which has provided some $1.25 billion to airports across Canada since its inception in 1995. The funding for YKF is on top of the $4 million that was provided last year for runway repairs and the purchase of a plow truck.
“We can feel the passion in the firefighters that are here that are keeping us safe. And we just appreciate everything they’re doing. These are people who run towards danger and have a really thankless job,” said Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Tim Louis.
“The safety of Canadians is a priority for our government….this is another addition to help keep airport workers, crew, and passengers safe,” added Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger.
Regional Chair Karen Redman said the current trucks at the airport were purchased in 1986 and 2010.
“So you can imagine what a welcome addition the new aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles will be to our fantastic team here at YKF,” said Redman, noting that the airport now has 21 staff cross-trained to provide fire service and other maintenance.
“Airport funding from the government of Canada is a critical resource for a growing regional airport like ours, and we’re so deeply appreciative of this support….. In 2021, our airport was ranked the sixth busiest airport in Canada. And it has been key to keeping the supply chain and passengers moving throughout this pandemic,” Redman added.
YKF experienced safety concerns in November of last year when a Flair Airlines aircraft overran the runway by approximately 500 feet. According to the Transportation Safety Board, the plane, which had 134 passengers and six crew members on board, “encountered some directional control issues, and did not decelerate as expected.”
However, Alghabra said this incident did not spark the funding announcement.
“We invite airports around the country to apply to receive funding for any type of initiative that will help increase safety. So we leave it up to the airports to decide; they obviously have certain safety requirements that they need to upkeep and maintain,” he said.
The minister could not provide an update on the dispute between Flair and its lender Airborne Capital Inc., which seized four of its aircraft over claims of missed payments. That’s a commercial dispute not regulated by the federal government, Alghabra said.
“Obviously I am concerned whenever an airline is unable to deliver services that they have sold to the customer. And that’s why we have the passenger Bill of Rights to ensure that airlines provide the service that they sold to their customers…but when it comes to the actual dispute, it’s between the lender and the airline,” he said.