Tracey Tong/metro ottawa
The first flights are set to depart from the new wing of the Ottawa International Airport within two weeks and officials are eagerly awaiting the completion of a "world-class facility."
The $95-million building, which features 12 new gates and seven new bridges in 7,000 square metres of space, will welcome its first flight on March 13. The airplanes will be moved from the old terminal on the west side to the new east side facility immediately.
The day after the facility opens, demolition of the old terminal will begin, after which work will begin on building 650,000 square feet of tarmac in its place, said International Airport Authority president and CEO Paul Benoit.
The work will be finished by December 2008.
"Ideally, we would have knocked the whole thing down, but we’re an operating facility," Benoit said during a tour of the facility yesterday.
Of the old facility, he said, "it served its purpose (but) it’s not representative of a national capital. Here we have a facility that is world class."
The new facility was necessary to accommodate the growing number of flights at the airport until at least 2020.
In addition to new flights from the airport added last year, Air Canada has added 20 per cent more passengers in the last six months, Benoit said. The airport had four million passengers in 2007.
The new facility also features a new Maple Leaf lounge with a 180-degree view of the runways and several long workstations with benches and areas to plug in laptops and cellphones, so that travellers can work while they wait for their flights.
"That’s the kind of world we live in now," Benoit said. "The facility is flexible enough that we can add anything down the road," he added.
The airport’s next expansion project will likely be for parking. "When the lot is full, you can’t say, ‘go across the street,’ because there is no across the street," he said.