While the airline industry is still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Lethbridge has been busy strategically preparing its airport for future growth and economic prosperity.
Lethbridge City Council has invested $2.6 million which it leveraged it to secure an additional $23 million in Provincial and Federal funding for a variety of projects residents have already started to see come to fruition.
"The number of improvements and enhancements at the Lethbridge Airport (YQL) will all have a collective impact aligning with the City's commitment to customer service excellence," says Lisa Trent, Director of Corporate and Customer Services. "The overall goal is to position the airport to be a significant economic driver for the city."
The YQL renovations will fast-track critical infrastructure projects focused on increasing passenger traffic, revenue diversification through land development, fire safety, and more – all to position the airport for pandemic recovery.
The enhanced customer experience will include:
- Upgrading existing washrooms
- Interior construction to expand the hold area to house new washrooms
- More efficient space utilization
- Installing a commonly-used terminal system to make it easier for airlines to operate in Lethbridge
- Self-check-in kiosk system
- Baggage system upgrade
- Powered mobile wheelchairs/pushers
- Visual passenger paging system
- New HVAC and electrical system
- Modifications to the parking and drop off area
Major upgrades to lighting and pavement rehabilitation are also underway.
Timeline of events (2019-present):
- July 1, 2019 – The City of Lethbridge assumed operations for the Lethbridge Airport from Lethbridge County after having purchased it a year earlier. The Airport Committee assisted in the development of the Lethbridge Airport Master Plan, which gives a detailed overview of the airport's governance model, finance management, infrastructure and facility needs
- February 2020 – City Council approved funding for the detailed design and renovation of the passenger terminal and an upgraded water service
- November 2020 – Municipal Stimulus Program funding was approved for two additional projects at the Lethbridge Airport: rehabilitation of pavement and drainage for taxiway A, taxiway C, apron I, apron II and threshold 05 for a total of $5.063 million; and upgrade to existing airfield ground lighting infrastructure for all airside surfaces (runways, taxiways and aprons) including power regulators, cabling and control systems for a total of $6.1 million
- May 19, 2021 – The Lethbridge Airport received more than $7 million from the Federal Government's Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) to rehabilitate the airfield pavement. Read more here: https://www.lethbridge.ca/NewsCentre/Pages/Lethbridge-Airport-receives-multimillion-dollar-boost.aspx
- August 4, 2021 – The City of Lethbridge was awarded $583,480 from Western Economic Diversification Canada's Regional Air Transportation Initiative to support critical improvements at the Lethbridge Airport that will enhance the customer experience. Read more here: https://www.lethbridge.ca/NewsCentre/Pages/Airport-Grant-Funding.aspx
- August 10, 2021 – City Council approved the YQL Business Plan 2021-2024 and will continue to operate the Lethbridge Airport (YQL) as a City of Lethbridge Department under the Director of Corporate and Customer Services. This model will remain in place until YQL reaches the key triggers of: two consecutive years of $500,000 net operating profit and more than 150,000 annual passengers. Read more here: https://www.lethbridge.ca/NewsCentre/Pages/Council-sets-governance-for-Lethbridge-Airport.aspx