Aviation In Canada

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Halifax International Airport Construction

The Halifax International Airport Authority has decided it's time to redo the surface of the airport. Not an entirely unusual thing, since airport construction happens. Afterall, the surfaces do deteriorate over time. The HIAA has taken it upon themselves to redo the entire surface, in four phases, I believe. The current one, lasting upwards of four weeks in total, has been a bit of a bugaboo for the HIAA as well as many thousands of passengers and the airlines in particular.

Remember my Canjet post a few days ago? That was written on the heels of a letter to the editor to our local newspaper, asking them to contact other parties before reporting, rather than just sensationalize the words of a few passengers. You know, actually call the airline to get their story. What about the airport? Was Canjet the only one who couldn't get in? The basics of good reporting, here. Anyway, Canjet tracked down my phone number and called me last evening. He wanted to see if I was for real, and, if so, to thank me for throwing some sanity into the media frenzy over this. He said they thought about their options in this, and decided to let the storm pass, as one of the comments here had mentioned, rather than getting into a big public fight. The next "big thing" for the media will come along and hopefully all of this would blow over and be forgotten about. He confirmed everything we suspected here: The pilots didn't rocket right up with ear-blowing decompression and everything was done reasonably. He said, in fact, it would have been interesting to see if anyone noticed the difference if they weren't honest and up front about it all, since it was dark (the flight occured after nightfall) and little was visible out the windows with clouds and all. Still, I like the integrity of the company for being forthcoming about the situation with their passengers, rather than trying to hide things. I wonder if Jetsgo would have been equally up front... Nah. No need to compare these two companies.

Anyway, the airport construction has been hard on the airport users. In Moncton, the airport authority's president was quoted as saying they had more airplanes on the ramp here than at any point since 9/11. Parking actually became an issue, he said, as was dealing with the passenger influx. Bad enough that the airport had to work with this, but over the Canada Day holiday weekend with all the hotels booked up and so forth, there was no room at the inn, so to speak. Timing really is everything.

I'm still not sure what had the HIAA decide to do all of this construction at the height of summer passenger traffic, but it's the airlines that have quietly shouldered the blame for not making it in there so far. I haven't seen anything from any of them yet pushing that blame to the airport. They have NDB approaches and a localizer approach. That's it. Halifax has a CAT II ILS for a reason: They often need it. The airlines have likely paid out tonnes of cash for passengers' alternate arrangements, tonnes of fuel in holding and diverting. All this, and so far they've been quiet? I wonder if there is some kind of arrangement or it they're just sucking it up. It has to be monumentally expensive on every front (customer relations, crew resources, fuel budget, you name it) especially for a cut-throat business like this.