Message from
Chair & CEO

A Message from the Chair & CEO

St. John’s International Airport has come a long way since its humble beginnings as Torbay Airport, when it opened in 1941 as a military installation. It has developed into a world-class transportation facility that accommodates more than 4,000 passengers travelling through its gates each day; a far cry from the five passengers who travelled on Trans-Canada Airlines (now Air Canada) on the first commercial landing in 1942.

Airport Terminal Building Expansion

Through its evolution in becoming our province’s premier transportation gateway, St. John’s International Airport has undergone many changes to its infrastructure and facilities throughout the years. The most recent milestone is the completion of the first phase of the Airport Terminal Building expansion project, the largest capital project in the Airport Authority’s 20-year history. This first phase opened for business in July 2018 and was completed on time and on budget. After four years of construction, the much anticipated opening of the expanded Departures Lounge and the new departure processing area in 2018, added many new amenities and services that have been roundly welcomed by airlines and passengers. At the same time, a concerted effort was made to highlight our maritime heritage and create a sense of place, which is evident in the design of the building; the added local artwork, and the creation of a Concessions Program that features local products. For those passengers travelling through our Airport, there is no question that they are in Newfoundland and Labrador. The expanded Departures area, while significantly enhancing airline operations and passenger experiences, only solved half of our capacity constraint issue. In 2019, we’ll begin construction on Phase Two of this project that is focused on expanding the Arrivals area of the Terminal Building. The completion of this final phase in 2022 will remove the existing bottleneck in the Arrivals processing area and enable us to efficiently welcome as many as two million passengers annually.

Passenger Satisfaction

The improvements and the many new services and amenities offered at our Airport have had a positive impact on passenger satisfaction, according to the Airport Service Quality index survey results provided by Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA). We’re happy to report a substantial increase in both our overall passenger satisfaction rating and our ranking compared to other airports following the opening of the expanded Terminal Building. It’s a true testament of our efforts, and that the work we’ve done is recognized and valued by the travelling public. With continuous improvements being made, we expect these to continue to be appreciated by our passengers.

Business Growth and Air Service Development

The one daily arrival and departure flight in 1942 has grown to approximately 80 daily flights in 2018, serving destinations across Canada, the US and Europe. Over the last 20 years as an Airport Authority, passenger traffic has more than doubled and our passenger volume has grown to over 1.5 million passengers annually. We are committed to continuing to work with our airline partners and to pursue new destinations and greater frequency where a strong business case exists. At the same time, we are pleased that 54 per cent of all revenue earned is generated from non-aeronautical revenue sources, including land development, concessions revenue and advertising. This is a planned strategy as it enables us to financially cushion against the impact of airline decisions that are often outside our control. We would like to take this opportunity to welcome those who recently joined our airport community as part of the new Concessions Program, as well as the new Best Western Plus hotel, Tim Hortons and North Atlantic’s service station. We would also like to thank Air Canada for the investment in the development of the new Maple Leaf Lounge that opened December 2018. These investments by external parties reflect the confidence in our Airport and add services to enhance the airport experience.

National Recognition

Communication with our stakeholders and community was key throughout the expansion process and our Airport has been recognized nationally by ACI-NA. The Airport Authority received an award for best Overall Public Relations Programs for small airports in North America. We’re very honoured to have received this recognition, and are committed to continued communication throughout Phase Two. None of the significant accomplishments achieved in 2018 would have been possible without the commitment, dedication and support of our Airport Authority staff, stakeholder groups, and Airport partners. As we continue to build a better gateway, we never lose sight of the impact these enhancements have on our partners and stakeholders. In enhancing the accessibility of our community and creating positive and lasting impressions at the premier gateway to and from our province, we are facilitating local trade and improving the attractiveness of the region for investment. We understand this role, and will continue to make improvements that have the added benefit of contributing significantly to our local and national economies.


Art Cheeseman

Keith Collins

Who We Are

St. John’s International Airport Authority

St. John’s International Airport Authority is a private, non-for-profit, non-share capital corporation that exists to provide a safe and efficient transportation facility at Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier transportation gateway.

We generate our own revenue, raise our own capital, pay municipal taxes, and pay rent to the Federal Government on an annual basis to operate the Airport on behalf of the community we serve. We are committed to offering an outstanding airport experience for our passengers and enhancing the economic and social well-being of our community.

We will create an
exceptional airport experience at
Newfoundland & Labrador’s premier gateway

community leader | enabling prosperity

Board of Directors:
Top Row (L-R): Art Cheeseman, Tom Williams, Gail Carroll, Darren Martin, Roger Butt, Larry Pittman
Bottom Row (L-R): Holly Hicks, Jim Heale, Jerry Byrne, Mike Donovan, Cathy Fauvre, Robert Gosse


Strategic Plan

The Airport Authority’s 2015-2019 Strategic Business Plan defines the Authority’s ideal future and includes objectives and strategic initiatives that will serve as our guiding framework that will lead to our vision of providing an exceptional airport experience at our province’s premier transportation gateway. This report provides an update on our progress associated with the seven strategic objectives: Outstanding Facilities; Exceptional Passenger Experience; Focused Business and Air Service Development; Culture of Engagement; Enhanced Community Partnerships and Collaboration; Organizational Effectiveness; and Financial Stability.

Outstanding Facilities

Objective:  Deliver new, improved, and expanded Airport Terminal Building and related Airport facilities to meet 2020 demand.

Phase One of the Airport Terminal Building Expansion was on time and on budget.

Airport Terminal Building Expansion

The largest capital project in the Airport Authority’s 20-year history is the Airport Terminal Building Expansion project, which is being constructed in two phases:

  • Phase One (2014-2018) – now open with an additional 145,000 square feet added to the Airport Terminal Building focussing on the Departures process.
  • Phase Two (2019-2022) – an additional 100,000 square feet will be added to the Airport Terminal Building and will focus on the Arrivals process.

In July 2018, Phase One of the Airport Terminal Building expansion opened on time and on budget. It boasts an additional 145,000 square feet to the building bringing it to almost 315,000 square feet to facilitate airport operations, while keeping passenger comfort and convenience top of mind.

iconLarger check-in space for airline operations

iconLarger pre-board screening/security area for CATSA operations; relocated from Level 2 to Level 1; next to check-in

iconDouble the number of washrooms in the Departures Lounge

iconA new filtered water refill station

iconNew Concessions Program with new food and beverage and retail outlets

icon6 new gates for a total of 12

icon2 new passenger loading bridges for a total of 7

iconTriple the seating capacity in the Departures Lounge with new lounge chairs and seats suitable for those with accessibility issues

iconApproximately half of the seats in the Departures Lounge have charging capabilities

iconSpecial needs/multi-purpose room

iconNew Children’s Play Area

iconNew Nursing Mother’s Area adjacent to the Children’s Play Area

iconOverhaul of IT infrastructure to improve resilience and availability

When Phase Two commences which focuses on the Arrivals area, work will begin on the construction of additional space for international customs operations for the Canadian Border Services Agency; additional space for baggage handling operations, and an expanded Ground Transportation area to assist with taxi and shuttle bus queuing. The Departures Lounge will also be expanded with more seating and two additional gates and passenger loading bridges.

Once complete, the total size of the Airport Terminal Building will be close to 420,000 square feet. It’s expanding to add capacity; to accommodate new security requirements; to enable the province’s economic growth and to address the changing expectations of today’s traveller.

Airport Terminal Building Improvements

In addition to the expansion, there were numerous enhancements and improvements made in 2018 to improve passenger experience and increase passenger satisfaction. In 2019, and throughout the second phase of the expansion, general upgrades and improvements will continue.

2018 Improvements made to the existing washrooms including: kids step-ups; stainless steel partitions; tile repair and replacement; new hand dryers and lighting upgrades
Carpet and tiles were replaced in older section of the terminal building
Interactive information screens were installed in the Departures Lounge to highlight new components and help with wayfinding
New Breach Control was installed – a one-way exit corridor that guides the flow of arriving passengers from the Departures Lounge to the Arrivals Area
Reversed direction of centre court escalator to promote an alternative exit for those without checked baggage
New wayfinding signage installed to highlight the new components
Relay renovated its store and opened JellyBean Harbour on Level 1 which provides all travel essentials
New concrete pad for bridging aircraft
2019 New check-in counters for airline operations
Replacement of the lighting in the older section of the terminal building
Two new Tim Hortons opening on Level 1 (pre-security) and Level 2 (post-security)
LED lighting upgrades inside and outside Terminal Building to improve efficiency

Exceptional Passenger Experience

Objective: Provide an exceptional passenger experience at our Airport.

In order to measure passengers’ level of satisfaction at the Airport, the Airport Authority participates in a year-round Airport Service Quality index survey. This global research tool provides quantitative feedback on all aspects of the Airport experience and provides benchmark data from other airports worldwide. Despite continuous construction and transition period leading up to the opening of the first phase of the Airport Terminal Building expansion, the passenger satisfaction rating increased by two per cent to 85 per cent for 2018 overall, largely as a result of high ratings (88 per cent) received in the final quarter results which reflect many of the new enhancements experienced by passengers.

The significant increase in passenger satisfaction levels can be partially attributed to the many new offerings at the Airport.


88% passenger satisfaction rating achieved after the opening of the expanded Terminal Building.

A new Concessions Program with retail and food and beverage options featuring local and national brands, including the first full-service family restaurant past security

A new Children’s Play Area with equipment that are iconic symbols of Newfoundland and Labrador – a 7 ft. lighthouse with a tunnel and slide; an iceberg slide with a puffin sitting on top and a humpback whale climbing play structure

A new Nursing Mother’s Area (adjacent to the Children’s Play Area) with ample space for stroller parking and comfortable furniture suitable for breastfeeding

A new family washroom and female and male washrooms – all equipped with change tables

The new anxiously-awaited full-menu Tim Hortons locations (Level 1 and Level 2) will be open in 2019 offering more Canadian flavours to visitors from around the world, in addition to brand-loyal locals.

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Focused Business & Air Service Development

Objective: Pursue revenue diversification and aggressive air service development.

Air Service Development

Attracting new and expanded airline services to the region is a core function of business for the Airport Authority. The number of passengers travelling through the Airport has more than doubled since the Airport privatized in 1998, and in 2018, there were more than 1.5 million passengers annually. St. John’s International Airport has approximately 80 daily flights to and from 21 destinations in Canada, Europe and the US.

The region’s close proximity, plus its business and cultural ties, makes Europe a priority for air service development. There have been challenges in maintaining service to this region over the last year, but the Airport Authority is committed to pursuing an airline to provide service to Dublin, and to working with stakeholders to support the Air Canada London Heathrow flight. Both are very important routes to the long-term growth of the region.

One of the Airport Authority’s targets in its Strategic Plan was to increase the number of Florida destinations served from the region. In late 2018, WestJet announced its third Florida destination it would be serving in 2019: a new seasonal direct service to Fort Lauderdale. Florida is the number one US destination from St. John’s International Airport, and WestJet is now providing seasonal service to Fort Lauderdale and Tampa Bay, and year-round service to Orlando.

Air Canada has also increased overall seat capacity to and from the province, and WestJet will launch a new seasonal service in 2019 to the largest unserved market from St. John’s: Edmonton.

While there have been significant increases in the number of destinations served over the last 10 years, pursuing direct air service development continues to key destinations where a strong business case exists, including direct service to New York.

Non-Aeronautical Revenue

54% revenue from non-aeronautical sources

While Air Service Development is pivotal to success, significant efforts have been made to increase and diversify revenue received from non-aeronautical sources in order to reduce dependency on fees received from airlines.

In 2018, non-aeronautical revenue was 54 per cent of total annual revenue, a proportion that is much higher than the North American average of 45 per cent. This was achieved through the successful focused business program that generates revenue through advertising, concessions and land leases.

The Advertising Sales Program continues to offer a viable advertising location for local and national brands looking to connect with the 1.5 million passengers that travel through the airport annually. The new food and beverage and retail outlets that are part of the new Concessions Program have far exceeded expectations in terms of sales and revenue forecasts. Having various options for passengers not only offers choice for passengers, but adds to the revenue diversification strategy.

Land Development

Located just 10 mins from the downtown core of the city and with approximately 250 acres still available for development, the Airport represents a prime location for further aviation and non-aviation related development. Land lease opportunities at the Airport will continue to be pursued, and efforts will be placed on identifying business opportunities that represent new sources of non-aeronautical revenue.

Last year, new amenities were added resulting in an increase in non-aeronautical revenue. Best Western Plus hotel opened its doors and North Atlantic Petroleum also opened a service station with an Orangestore and retail and food options. In addition, a Tim Hortons outlet opened in the same building and a Subway outlet is set to come in 2019. These options add convenience for hotel guests, the Airport community and neighbours, and the travelling public.

Culture of Engagement

Objective: Create a culture of employee engagement within the organization.

The Airport Authority recognizes the value of a strong culture of engagement for employee satisfaction and organizational effectiveness. Defined as a culture where communication channels and dialogue are open; there is a sense of community in the workplace; employees feel their work is meaningful, and all parties are committed to a shared and valued vision.

Over the last year, the Airport Authority has continued to advance this strategic objective with new and revised initiatives based on feedback from the active Employee Engagement Committee, comprised of both management and unionized employees. To ensure regular, open dialogue, the Airport Authority also has an active Labour Management Committee that discusses and resolves a variety of workplace issues. It provides a forum for information sharing to connect employees to business goals and supports the improvement of employee engagement initiatives for the approximately 100 employees of the Airport Authority. In addition, an employee newsletter has also been created and distributed on a regular basis, based on information solicited from employees.

Enhanced Community Partnerships & Collaboration

Objective: Enhance partnerships and collaboration with community while strengthening our brand.

As the premier transportation gateway to Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s International Airport plays a significant role in the economic and social well-being of the province. The Airport Authority is committed to finding opportunities to collaborate and establish partnerships to increase air services at St. John’s International Airport; enhance passenger experience; showcase the unique identity and culture to visitors; and establish a sense of pride within the community for the facilities and services offered.

The Airport Authority continues to meet regularly with the Air Service Development Committee, comprised of leaders in the community who help to define air service development priorities and strategy, and provide information that can be factored into a business case.

The Airport Authority’s relationship with Business and Arts Newfoundland and Labrador (BANL) continues to strengthen as well. As part of the expansion of the Airport Terminal Building, the goal was to find artwork for the expanded Departures Lounge that was culturally relevant. Through collaboration with BANL, three pieces of digital mosaic artworks by local artist, Vessela Brakalova, were commissioned. Two of the backlit tiled fabric artwork feature the abundance of wildlife that can be found in the rich waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, and the third piece depicts St. John’s harbour and represents the history and people of St. John’s. The Authority continues to look for opportunities to highlight local talent and support the community while enhancing the experience for passengers at the Airport.

Organizational Effectiveness

Objective: Improve organizational effectiveness with improvements to processes and systems.

St. John’s International Airport Authority continues to improve its processes and systems in order to deliver more efficient and effective services at the Airport, allowing resources to be focused on areas that have the greatest impact on achieving the strategic goals.

A Document Management System continues to be implemented that facilitates the sharing and storage of data. In addition, two vehicular assets were added to the fleet in 2018. The Airport Authority invested over $2 million in a new and improved fire truck and a new snow blower that is the most powerful and capable unit on the market today. These new machines enhance the emergency response capabilities and strengthen the winter operations capabilities.

In addition to increasing its physical assets, the staff complement also strengthened in 2018 and, on average, each full time employee received almost five days of training. These additions and investments ensure the organization is equipped to meet its objectives.

Financial Sustainability

Objective: Ensure financial sustainability.

Since 1998, $336 Million has been invested in infrastructure improvements

As a private, not-for-profit, non-share capital corporation, St. John’s International Airport Authority is responsible for generating its own revenue and raising its own capital funds to support the Airport’s operations and its infrastructure improvement plans. All earnings generated through the operations of the Airport are reinvested back into the infrastructure and operations of the Airport.

The 10-year Airport Improvement and Expansion Plan announced in 2018 includes investments to ensure safety and operational integrity of the Airport; to complete the expansion of its facilities to accommodate two million passengers annually; as well as investments required for airside maintenance and fleet renewals and upgrades.  The total investment in infrastructure improvements was $24 million for 2018, and the total investment in the Airport’s facilities will be $191 million between 2018 and 2027.

In order to finance these investments, the Airport Authority also developed a 10-year Financial Plan that includes long-term debt facilities with policies in place to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the Airport. In 2014, the Airport Authority secured a $60 million private placement bond and a $25 million line of credit. In order to finance the new 10-year Plan, the line of credit was increased to $40 million in 2016. Since the Airport Authority first went into the bond market in 2007, it has maintained a positive A1 bond credit rating. This has been reaffirmed each year for the last 10 years by Moody’s Investors Service, recognizing prudent financial management and sound strategic planning.

The Airport’s primary source of revenue to finance its long-term debt and credit facilities for expenditures associated with capital projects that have a positive impact on the passenger experience is the Airport Improvement Fee (AIF).

Since the Airport Authority was incorporated in 1998, it has invested $336 million in infrastructure improvements. This level of investment is substantially more than the total collected in Airport Improvement Fees over the same period. To date, the Airport has collected 63 per cent of the total invested through the Airport Improvement Fees. These investments were important to make in advance of collecting the total costs associated with them so that passengers could enjoy the improvements sooner rather than later, and airlines could continue to expand services.

The Airport Authority is focused on diversifying revenue streams and identifying new sources of revenue with the goal to lessen dependency on the commercial aviation industry. In 2018, 54 per cent of revenue was received from non-aeronautical sources.


Business Plan Summary

2018 Capital Program

The ATB East Expansion and associated projects were successfully completed in 2018 on time and on budget.  Related projects include the installation of two new passenger loading bridges, the associated concrete apron gates, completion of the east end loading zone and the purchase of an automated secure area exit (Breach Control) unit.  A second unit will be delivered in 2019.  Finally, there was significant progress made towards the manufacturing and installation of a sophisticated new Hold Bag Screening System which is scheduled to be fully operational in 2019.

2018 Actual vs. Business Plan

(Shown in thousands of dollars)

Actual Plan Difference Explanation
Revenue (Note 1) $49,802 $49,959 ($157) Modestly lower operating revenues offset by higher airport improvement fees than planned..
Expenses (Note 2) $29,629 $30,947 ($1,318)

A mild winter resulted in lower winter operating costs as well as lower interest on borrowed funds.

Capital $24,179 $29,429 ($5,250) Delivery of heavy equipment was deferred until 2019. Certain projects were partially completed in 2018 and will be finished in 2019 including the new Hold Bag Screening system.

Note 1. Revenue includes net AIF and operating revenue.
Note 2. Expenses include interest and exclude the non-cash items of depreciation and amortization.

Planning for Growth (2019-2023)

We have completed a long-term infrastructure plan to address capacity constraints and to accommodate projected passenger traffic. The two-phased Airport Terminal Building expansion is well underway with the first phase completed in 2018, and the second phase scheduled to be completed early in 2023. A long-term Financial Plan was also prepared in order to support the investment in infrastructure improvements, and includes future borrowings in the form of a private placement bond and credit facilities.

Business Plan Forecast 2019-2023

(Shown in thousands of dollars)

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Revenue (Note 1 & 2) $49,876 $50,919 $52,003 $55,483 $55,013
Expenses (Note 3) $28,806 $31,704 $32,752 $33,736 $34,696
Capital (Note 4) $19,358 $20,574 $24,210 $19,283 $18,918

Note 1. Assumes passenger growth will be 0% in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and 1.5% each year thereafter..
Note 2. Revenue includes net AIF and operating revenue.
Note 3.Expenses include interest and exclude the non-cash items of depreciation and amortization.
Note 4. Capital includes the expansion of the Airport Terminal Building, additional passenger loading bridges, the expansion of the hold bag screening system and the rehabilitation of apron II.