This week construction officially begins on the expansion of Kingston’s airport. With the final design complete, work is now proceeding on both the extension of the existing runway and the renovation and expansion of the terminal building. When I ran for mayor back in 2014, the expansion of the airport was an important part of my platform and I’m very glad to see this project moving ahead. This expansion is a critical first step towards improving air transportation to and from Kingston.
As the work begins on the physical infrastructure of the airport, the city is also working to develop a market study that will give us the information we need when discussing air service improvements with Air Canada and other potential airline carriers. Several years ago a study found that more than 90% of air travelers in this region drive to other airports like Toronto or Ottawa rather than flying out of Kingston. That suggests an enormous opportunity for airlines to do business in Kingston if airlines make the right improvements to their service. There are also great opportunities for related industries in Kingston because of the pressures faced by Toronto’s Pearson airport, which won’t be able to handle the future growth in Southern Ontario air traffic on its own. This means a future where regional airports like Kingston can play an important role, which will bring new economic development opportunities.
If Kingston is going to be a globally connected city we need to make sure it’s easy for tourists, business travelers and residents to get to and from Kingston, whether by air, train or car. There is lots of work ahead to make that happen, but by the time the airport expansion is completed later this year, we will have taken a big step toward this goal.