Record number of fliers in 2010 at airport

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/news/ottawa/2011/01/12/16861361.html#/news/ottawa/2011/01/12/pf-16861361.html

Almost four-and-a-half million passengers flew out of the Ottawa International Airport in 2010, setting a new record.

“We’ve finished the year at 5.7% higher than last year,” said Paul Benoit, Airport Authority president and CEO.

“I think the important part of that isn’t that the airport has that much traffic. It’s that it reflects the community.”

More than 3.3 million travelers flew within Canada.

Approximately 725,781 people went to the U.S., and 444,943 globetrotters crossed the oceans.

It’s the third straight year of significant growth in international travel.

To Benoit, the numbers are a sign of prosperity.

And passengers are equally optimistic.

“Usually the economy and what happens in the airports and transit through airports, they kind of go together. Yeah, I think it’s good,” said Ottawa resident Gaetan Desrivieres.

Leslie Hornbeck flew in from Calgary to visit her sister and was heading back Wednesday.

“The higher the numbers flying through Canada, Ottawa, I suspect that we’re improving in our economy,” Hornbeck said.

It beats 2009 when travel was down 2.5%.

The old record was set in 2008, when 4.3 million passengers departed from Ottawa.

And to accommodate the increase in foot traffic, the airport authority opened about 350 spaces Wednesday in the new parkade — a project which began last spring.

The parkade is a $35-million upgrade to the city’s gateway, which is considered the fourth or fifth biggest airport in Canada.

Construction should be complete this fall, with a roof on the whole structure.

“By next winter, everybody who parks at the airport will be in a covered stall and not have to worry about snowbanks,” Benoit said.

And with new destinations like Las Vegas, Charlotte and Regina, Benoit said he hopes the airport will shatter another record in 2011.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

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