MIAMI — The Calgary Airport Authority officially opened today its brand-new terminal for international departures. WestJet flight 2250 with nonstop service to Puerto Vallarta was the first flight to depart the new terminal facility this morning around 06:00 local time.
The new terminal features 24 gates for international and U.S. destinations. The 2 million square feet terminal doubles the size of the current terminal. The International Concourse has two concourses, Concourse D for international flights and Concourse E for U.S. bound destinations.
The state-of-the art International Terminal aims at providing an enhanced customer experience at the airport for both local and connecting passengers.
The new Terminal features 20 self-drop bags in the check-in area and an automated system capable of handling 4,000 bags per hour, a new expedited CATSA security checkpoint, Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks for U.S. pre-clearance, and a modern electric shuttle that runs between concourses. Among other things, the airport’s newest terminal offers local-inspired restaurants and shops, and two walk-through duty free stores.
“This is not like adding a new concourse or even a few gates — it’s a whole new terminal,” said Garth Atkinson, CEO of the Calgary Airport Authority. “People may say, ‘why did you build it so big?’ Well, we’re not building it for today or even 10 years from now, we’re building it for 30 years from now. Because we have to — if we don’t, we will have made a mistake.”
Enhanced Security Checkpoint (CATSA Plus)
The Canadian Air Transport Authority (CATSA) has installed CATSA Plus, a new set of technologies and procedures in order to speed up the security checkpoint process and improve the passenger experience at the same time. The new International Terminal is the first in the country to get the CATSA Plus technology.
The electronic gates that are installed at the entrance of the checkpoint automatically validate boarding passes and other trusted traveler documents. It also informs passengers of the next available screening line. Additionally, a network of tracking sensors in the ceiling anonymously tracks passenger movements and calculates wait times.
To expedite the flow of passengers even further, CATSA Plus has parallel stations that enable multiple passengers to divest simultaneously and assures a continuous flow of bins through the x-ray.
A photo of each bin is taken before entering the x-ray so screening officers can easily identify items that require physical search. Each bin has an RFID tag for the motorized bag diverter to separate the bins that have been cleared from the ones that require further search. A motorized bin return accelerates the process of returning the empty bins to the divest stations.
Finally, CATSA Plus features a larger repack area with tables and chairs so that passengers can reassemble their personal belongings in a more enjoyable and a less pressured atmosphere.
“You won’t feel the same sense of urgency, and the slower passengers won’t impede the faster passengers from passing through,” said Angus Watt, CEO of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
New Passenger Shuttle
YYC Link, a new passenger electric shuttle, connects the five concourses together allowing passengers to connect to another flight without having to go through security again. The shuttle travels along a dedicated secured corridor and offers passengers scenic views of downtown Calgary and the Rocky Mountains.
The vehicles are driven by customer care ambassadors that meet, greet and assist travelers. Most passengers prefer nonstop flights because of the hassle of airport connections, but the airport ambassadors are there to help and answer questions.
“They will ask you about your day; they will point out the different things that are in each terminal; they will point out the cityscape and the mountain views,” said Debbie Stahl, Director of Passenger Experience with the Calgary Airport Authority. “They’re really there to make people feel comfortable and confident in their connection process at YYC.”
YYC Link has a total of 20 electric vehicles which seats 10 passengers. It connects Concourse A and D/E in five minutes. Passengers having extra time and wishing to walk between concourses can do so by using the new Connections Corridor. It links the secure areas of the terminals and allows passengers to seamlessly connect between the domestic concourses (A, B and C) and the international terminal (D and E).
Post Security Area (Air Side)
The new terminal features 50 new restaurants and shops, which of 85% of them are located after security. The shops offer passengers an array of trusted brands, premier retail offerings, flagship restaurants and local eateries.
The international terminal has also two walk-through duty-free stores.
Recent Traffic Growth
Over the past two decades, YYC Calgary International Airport has seen consistent passenger traffic growth. From 2000 to 2015, the number of passengers has roughly doubled from 8 million to about 15.5 million.
In the past few years, the airport has directly competed with Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) for the title of the third busiest airport in the nation. YYC’s title of third busiest airport only lasted a year (2014) as YUL regained the position in 2015 and is on track to win again this year.
While looking at the table above, it is noticeable to see the total number of passengers’ growth slightly slowing down from 2014. In 2014, the three sectors (domestic, transborder and international) grew at approximately the same rate. The next year, there was a decrease in the number of passengers going to the United States. From January to September 2016, the number of transborder passengers has decreased further to more than -4%. This is mostly due to the economic downturn in Alberta.
Garth Atkinson, President & CEO of Calgary Airport Authority commented “For the five or six years leading up to [the opening of the new runway in 2014], this airfield was full at peak times during the day and for four or five hours in the evening. Many flights were being held on the ground in Edmonton, Vancouver and Fort McMurray.”
“And we’re full in the terminal right now — we don’t have any more gates. So this is a capacity-driven project,” he said.