Airport Authority Reports Strong 2016 Financial & Operational Results

Joins Airport Carbon Accreditation Program
Addresses Airport Ownership

At its annual public meeting today, Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA) reflected on 2016 as a year of significant accomplishments, and reported its operating and financial results.

“Last year was outstanding for Halifax Stanfield, as new passenger and cargo records were set,” says Joyce Carter, HIAA President & CEO. “In addition to achieving these operational milestones, we focused on planning and investing in infrastructure for future growth. In 2016, we completed a new comprehensive strategic plan, updated our capital and financial plan, and invested over $34 million to improve the passenger experience and facilitate airport operations.”

In 2016, total revenues rose to $97.4 million ($91.7 million in 2015). Several factors accounted for this increase, including record passenger numbers, an increase in aeronautical revenue, and continued growth in parking and concession revenues. The record passenger numbers also contributed to improved revenues from the airport improvement fee – a total of $35.6 million in 2016 ($34.3 million in 2015).

Expenses increased in 2016 to $92.3 million ($89.1 million in 2015). A milder winter and the resulting savings in winter operating costs, combined with a marginal decline in general and administrative expenses, helped to offset the impact of increased expenses for wages and benefits, amortization, and ground lease rent payable to the federal government.

After accounting for the non-cash impact of HIAA’s defined benefit pension plan, revenues exceeded expenses in 2016 by $3.0 million ($2.6 million in 2015). Under the Airport Authority’s mandate, this surplus will be reinvested in airport operations and development to improve facilities and services.

Passenger numbers saw substantial growth in 2016 increasing 5.6 per cent (1.1 per cent in 2015). Halifax Stanfield served 3,908,799 passengers in 2016, making it the busiest year in the airport’s history. “We had a tremendously successful year thanks to our passengers, our airline partners, our entire airport community, as well as government and stakeholders,” says Carter. “We are set to hit four million passengers in 2017 and we remain committed to collaborating with airlines, industry and tourism agencies to achieve this milestone.”

Air cargo also saw growth. In 2016, 33,329 metric tonnes of cargo was processed, up 4.1% over 2015. New service included Qatar Airways Cargo weekly flight to Doha and a second weekly flight by Korean Air Cargo to Seoul, South Korea. Much of the cargo was live lobster. In fact, more than $163 million in seafood exports were shipped from Halifax Stanfield in 2016.

Airport Carbon Accreditation Program

The Airport Authority announced it has joined the Airport Council International’s Airport Carbon Accreditation Program, a global consortium of airports dedicated to managing, reducing, and ultimately neutralizing their carbon footprint. Halifax Stanfield is one of eight airports in Canada participating in the program.

“This is one more way we are advancing our commitment to environmental sustainability,” says Carter. “Through our robust environmental management system we are eager to do our part, working alongside other airports around the world, to improve environmental efficiency and carbon reduction in the aviation industry.”

Airport Ownership

Also at the meeting, the Airport Authority addressed the federal government’s consideration of selling off airports and moving to a for-profit private enterprise model.

The current airport authority model – a not-for-profit, non-share capital corporation – has served Canadian air travellers very well over the past 25 years.” says Carter. “That said, we do support enhancements to the current model, such as steps to better serve our passengers – more funding for CATSA to shorten line-ups at pre-board screening, for example; steps that lower costs of air travel in Canada; and adjustments to some of the current restrictions in our ground lease.”

“Halifax Stanfield is a major economic driver for the Nova Scotia economy,” adds Carter. “It’s unlikely that a for-profit, private owner’s mandate would support economic development investments, such as the air cargo projects we’ve recently undertaken.”

The Airport Authority undertook a thorough review, using in-house resources and external consulting expertise, examining a wide variety of information sources and perspectives around the issue of airport ownership.

“After completing our analysis, we do not believe a for-profit, private ownership model would meet the federal government’s stated objectives of increasing levels of service and lowering the cost of air travel, nor do we think it will serve the economic and social interests of our community.”

Other 2016 Highlights

• Over $34 million was invested in infrastructure upgrades including the installation of automated passport control kiosks in U.S. preclearance, additional post-security space for new amenities, and improvements to airside infrastructure and electrical power supply.

• The latest figures available (2015) show Halifax Stanfield is worth over $2.7 billion to the Nova Scotia economy on an annual basis. This is composed of over $1 billion in impacts from airport and tenant operations, $470 million from cargo exporters and $838 million from tourists entering the province at the airport.

• A new comprehensive strategic plan that will guide HIAA’s activities over the next five years was completed in 2016. The new plan provides a blueprint for continued strategic growth and development at Halifax Stanfield. As well, a 10-year capital and financial plan that provides guidance on key infrastructure requirements and financial impacts was updated.

• In 2016, Standard & Poor’s once again affirmed HIAA’s A+ corporate and bond credit ratings for the eleventh straight year and upgraded its outlook from stable to positive.

• Rated by passengers as one of the world’s best airports, placing in the top 10 of five categories in the Skytrax World Airport Awards, and finishing tied for third in North America for overall passenger satisfaction in the global Airports Service Quality ratings.

• Through its Community Outreach Program, HIAA provided $300,000 in financial and in-kind support to over 200 charities and community projects, including HIAA’s Signature Partner, the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre.

Click here to view HIAA’s 2016 annual report.