CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I.– The Charlottetown Airport Authority is taking the first step towards achieving carbon neutrality.
During Monday’s annual general meeting, CEO Doug Newson said the airport is working on level one of the international airport carbon accreditation program.
“It basically provides tools for carbon management at airports and it allows you to look at ways to manage, reduce and ultimately neutralize your carbon footprint,” Newson said during a public meeting at Confederation Centre of the Arts as part of the AGM. “We want to do our part for the environment; this is a very important first step in the area.”
There are currently about 190 airports around the world, including eight in Canada, taking part in the program run by Airports Council International.
The airport has hired an environmental engineer as a contract employee for the year. The first step is “mapping”, which involves compiling an independently verified carbon footprint report and a plan on how to limit emissions.
“We’re just in the early stages of this… we hope by the fall to have a level one certification and then we’ll be looking at the other levels,” said Newson, with the next three steps including reduction, optimization and neutrality.
The move towards reducing the airport’s carbon footprint has come during a period of strong growth, with last year seeing an all-time high of 370,688 passengers.
Newson said much of the growth came during the summer season, with almost all of it relating to the airport’s main airline partner, Air Canada.
Guest speaker at the AGM, David Rheault, senior director of government affairs and community relations for Air Canada, said the airline has seen a 25 per cent increase in its Charlottetown traffic since 2015.
Much of that was from the introduction of the leisure airline, Air Canada Rouge, to the market, he said.
“It’s a very good product for us, it’s particularly appealing for the tourism clientele as well as (for) visiting friends and family,” said Rheault. “We find P.E.I. is a natural market for Rouge and, frankly, the market is responding very well to that.”
Chairman Kent Scales said Air Canada is an extremely important partner for the airport.
“Without their growth in Charlottetown in recent years… we would not be delivering the results you are seeing today,” said Scales, while noting the airline is forecasted to deliver more than 75 per cent of Charlottetown’s total seat capacity this year.
The AGM also featured an update to the airport’s current rebuilding of its main runway and three taxi-ways.
Following last year’s successful $7 million, 2,000-foot extension to its secondary runway, Newson said this year’s overhaul will be the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the airport.
The project, which will be $18 to $19 million, is expected to be completed this fall.
“At the end of the day we’re going to have a much more modern asset for P.E.I. It’s going to be a safer asset and it’s going to be something that will provide the airport with the infrastructure we need for the next 20 years,” said Newson.