Ottawa international airport: $25-million renovation inside the terminal that will see a new and expanded food court and retail space

Big changes are coming to the Ottawa international airport, with a $25-million renovation inside the terminal that will see a new and expanded food court and retail space, and the relocation of passenger screening to the third floor of the building.

It’s all part of a major, five-year airport transformation that includes a new hotel and a $20-million LRT station. The overall project cost is estimated at $45 million over the next five years.

The work, to be done in phases, will begin next spring with the construction of the enlarged food/retail court and screening facility, which will take 18 months to two years to complete. Airport president and CEO Mark Laroche says successful bids for the new concessions will be revealed next month, followed by contract awards in the spring. Work is to start right after.

The airport also has identified a hotel operator and negotiations are expected to be completed in time for that announcement early in the new year.

Currently, passengers check in luggage with their respective airlines on the third floor, then take an escalator or stairs to the screening area one floor below. Under the new plan, all the restaurants and eateries now on the third floor would be removed to make room for the new security screening facility. The idea is to locate both baggage check-in and security screening on the same floor to improve both security and passenger comfort.

“Everywhere you see a restaurant or retail in the airport, it is going to change,” says Laroche. With passenger volumes rising – up four per cent to five million flyers this year – Laroche says the airport has to keep up with the growth. Besides, the airport is rated as the top airport for customer service in its class in North America (airports handling between two million and five million passengers a year), and Laroche wants to keep it that way with more improvements. “We value customer experience. Customer experience is in the culture of this airport,” he says.

Completion of the first phase would be followed by the construction of the hotel on the south side of the parking garage attached to the airport. The hotel will be built over the next five years.

Design work on the elevated LRT station at the northern end of the terminal is now underway, and construction is to begin once the city signs the Phase 2 LRT contract, which includes the airport spur. The station is expected to open by 2023.

The airport and its ancillary services employ about 5,000 people, contributing more than $2 billion a year to the Ottawa economy. Laroche says the pain of disruption will be worth it once the work is done. “It is going to be an enhanced airport,” he says.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

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