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Ask Reg - Responses from the Wednesday thread

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  • Ask Reg - Responses from the Wednesday thread

    Glenco: 1. The original plan for the expansion was to add 13 gates to the terminal. I thought I heard you say on the global inetrview that you are adding 17. Also on the latest rendering of the expansion that has been posted it shows 22 gates which would be a net gain of 17. Has there been a change to the expansion plans?

    We are adding 17 new bridges which will give us a net gain of 13, so the new total number of bridges will be 30. Of the 17 bridges we have now, some are being incorporated into terminal express which is why there are two figures. When Expansion 2012 is completed, there will be 30 gates total at EIA.

    2. I noted on a different thread the other day that Qualico is no longer involved directly with the commercial development on the east side of the terminal. Ken indicated that EIA wanted to take direct control of development of this area. Could you elaborate?

    Ken really described it perfectly; I don’t think there’s anything I could add. For those who haven’t seen that particular post, kcantor’s response was:

    “there was a desire on behalf of eaa to retain or reacquire a more direct control of marketing and development opportunities at yeg and we have agreed to work with them to see that accomplished. we are still enthusiastic about the development potential of those sites in particular at yeg and wish eaa every success in achieving it. should the opportunity arise for us to participate directly or indirectly in any of that i am sure it would be actively and cooperatively pursued by both parties.”

    SteveB: 2. I fly the direct LHR route on a regular basis, I am constantly stunned that every arrival seems to involve waiting for ground crew and very lengthy delays in receiving baggage (Saturday was 40 minutes as the gate had not been ploughed after earlier snow, I think it was the only one not done). This sets a very bad example for tourists/first time visitors. I know it has been difficult to attract staff due to the "hot" economy but what is being done to speed up the "landing to leaving" process so people see a far more efficient airport?

    Saturday was a very unique circumstance for the various airlines and operators, and the airport itself. In addition to dealing with significant snowfall in the morning, the real challenge was the 15 diverted aircraft from Calgary (the equivalent of about 1,500 people). In a diversion, the airline makes the decision to stay on the apron without deplaning until the weather clears, or to stay at the diverted airport (as 15 did on Saturday night) and offload passengers and luggage. In this situation, the airline can be challenged with having the right complement of ground crew available and on-site.

    I am not happy to hear that this was not your first delay arriving from LHR. On the subject of general delays and staffing, yes I believe that airlines and their ground handling and baggage agents have seen improvement with their staffing, which should help with improved baggage delivery.

    When we look at specific initiatives the airport has undertaken to improve the ‘landing to leaving’ process, one example is the promotion of Nexus. With the Nexus pass, preapproved travellers can expedite their entry into Canada and into the U.S. through biometrics and the Nexus kiosks. We’ve significantly promoted Nexus in Edmonton, and our inbound connecting cities, and have seen hundreds of travellers sign up.

    Overall, airport departures and arrivals are a series of processes. If, at any point along the way, one of those processes is compromised, it adds time and hassle and can affect the entire experience. This means we have to constantly work with our airline partners and other service providers to identify issues and try to identify solutions. I say this only to make a final point that there are always ‘reasons’ for less than great customer service, but we never concede that it’s acceptable and we will continue to work on each of those processes, one by one.

    Sonic Death Monkey: The taxi service for the International Airport is currently being served by a company that is not allowed to pick up passengers in the city; only the city's taxis can pick up passengers and take them to the airport. This creates the wasteful situation of cabs from two different entities going back and forth that are empty half of the time. And the infighting between said entities and having to use 2 separate companies in each direction is not a good portrayal of our city for business travelers and tourists. What is the best way to resolve this issue with the city and its taxi commission?

    The airport undertakes a competitive tender process to award a contract for a taxi supplier (our current contract is with Airport Taxi Service). With this contractor, we operate a closed taxi stand, which means a single operator. Through this contract we set service levels, vehicle and training standards, and ensure an adequate supply of taxis. Without this closed stand contract, we would have no ability to ensure that taxis are available for flights arriving very late at night, or during our Christmas and spring break rushes, for example. Previously, we have had taxi shortages during major community events like the Canadian Finals Rodeo – and that’s just not acceptable from a customer service perspective.

    In order to ensure there is always good supply, (for example a lot of flight diversions to Edmonton), at times we do open the stand to all taxi companies. Respecting consumer choice, we also allow prearranged pickups by any taxi company. So, if a customer has a preferred company, they can still arrange to have that company pick them up at the airport. The city does not permit this, meaning even with a prearranged service, ATS is not permitted to pick up customers in Edmonton.

    The contract we currently have with ATS also guarantees fixed rate fares from the airport to city zones. The issue of uncertainty of fares was significant for customers in the past, particularly tourists who really had no idea if trip charges were fair or not. The current fixed rate model for trips from Edmonton International Airport provides that comfort.

    I agree with you on the ‘empty one way’ consequence. Really, I think the only fix to this comes back to a regional solution. With boundaries as they currently exist, a St. Albert taxi can drop someone off in Edmonton, but can’t pick up a customer. Same thing with a Sherwood Park taxi; if you work at Bonnie Doon Mall but live in Sherwood Park, you can’t call a Sherwood Park taxi to take you home! We need to hear from customers and hoteliers, and restaurants and our tourism industry to ensure that the customer is being considered in whatever alternatives are achieved. And ultimately the only good solution is to look at service from a regional perspective rather than jurisdictional, but that is one tough issue to manage through, considering plates and licensing and historic operating structures.

    edmontonenthusiast: If (the Edmonton City Centre Airport closed), what would you like to see on the site? A fashion urban district, a genuine family community, a college centred community (due to NAIT), what? Would you use the traditional grid network for the roads, which is what surrounds it, or use a fused grid or a more modern curvy roads like in the modern suburbs?

    I’ve been invited to participate in the c2e forum to represent the views of Edmonton Airports as the Airports’ President and CEO, so that’s probably not a question for me to answer. Ultimately it’s the owners, the taxpayers of Edmonton who own those lands, and their elected municipal representatives, who will consider and make those choices.

    glasshead: Considering the importance of the Port Alberta and positioning Edmonton as the next "gateway to the far-east" via Prince Rupert, is EIA considering vying for flights to Terrace/Prince Rupert with air-carriers? In my opinion, not only is north-coast B.C, a "hidden gem" with respect to further industrial economic development, but also in tourism. Access to the north-coast is limited to either a long drive or awkward connections via Vancouver.

    While Prince Rupert is a relatively small market for airlines, it is true that we have a natural tie to the region as part of our Port Alberta vision. In terms of timing, we also continue to target Prince George as an air service destination and with its larger population would expect to secure that service first.

    Els: What is your plan on adding more signages on QEII to EIA? If you are driving from Edmonton to the airport, there is no big overhead advanced signs indicating the airport is in the vicinity. The signs on the right hand side of the shoulder is not too noticeable. Comparing the big overhead sign if you are driving from Leduc to the airport, this is visible. Any plans on adding a similar sign from the other driving directions?

    This is the first I’ve heard of anyone having difficulty noticing the signage on QEII for the airport. That’s a provincial highway so we’ll have to have that discussion with them and determine if they’ve had other concerns raised and if they have plans to add additional signage. Thanks for letting us know.

    53latitude: Focusing on the new terminal, I see this building is going to be LEED certified. What are some of the steps with electricity and natural gas you are working on to ensure you older buildings are also environmentally friendly in terms of energy use?

    When we first started our last expansion during the late ‘90s, LEED certification and standards weren’t yet in place. However, if they had been, I’m happy to say that the new terminal would have met much of the criteria for LEED environmental sustainability. In fact, at that time, we won a variety of awards for the new terminal and recognition for its ‘green’ construction – and that likewise preceded ‘green’ being incorporated as a key component of business that we’re so accustomed to today. For example, while the 2000 expansion more than doubled the terminal’s space, we still use roughly the same amount of natural gas that we used before. Also, with respect to electrical, we are always striving to use the latest energy efficient lights and components. ‘Going green’ is simply part of today’s business lexicon and we’re always looking at innovations to help us achieve greater energy efficiency and sustainability – we even have a sustainability committee to assist with and help us determine these objectives.

    EdmTrekker: I have several questions:
    1. US Air has discontinued its non-stops to Las Vegas and that gap has not been filled yet (by a Star Alliance partner). We are frequent flyers (too frequent to LAS and have always used US Air - as the flight left at 6:30 am. As that flight has been discontinued: Who will be filling that available gate (it will be sitting empty will it not?) and has AC of some other airline indicated it will be adding service? We appreciate that WJA fly non-stop - but not all flyers want Westjet and AC only current fly Thr and Sun pm.

    US Air’s seasonal service to Las Vegas will operate until May 9 of this year, which is in line with the beginning of a slower season for Vegas and as such a reduced demand for flights in general. US Air has said they would look at the route again for a restart in the fall. We have good competitive service with both Air Canada and WestJet so at this time, there’s still good capacity given the demand and competition on the route.

    2. Is EAA looking at possible service from Easyjet, Ryanair or Air Berlin to cities they serve in Europe. Can they be enticed by providing access to hanger and a subsidy?

    I might have answered this somewhat in other posts. We are looking at a number of options for connecting hubs in Europe and airlines (I don’t even think Easyjet and Ryanair have the aircraft with the range to serve Edmonton). The ‘real’ answer to what I think you’re getting at though is that air service development is not just one thing: it’s community awareness to try to take back some of that leakage to Calgary, it’s about adequate competitive airport facilities to enable efficient airline operations, it’s about ‘selling’ our story to airlines, it’s about developing an air service team that knows how to sell our story, it’s about pursuing a plan A and a plan B for a particular route, it’s about targeting the right airline with the right equipment… For any new route we need to be able to leverage as much as this as possible, recognizing too that variables like hub strategy can be a challenge, and our region’s long-term northern resource development can be an incredible opportunity.

    3. Can the London gate be moved down one, and glass moved to expand US departures for the next few years? It can be unbearable at times.

    Who is your inside contact!? That’s exactly what we are looking at doing now. It will mean a very busy domestic/international lounge at some times of the day, and it means some additional funds to reorganize our corridors into the facility, but we’re looking at how we could accomplish that now.

    4. You mentioned Lounge Access. I often purchase lounge access in Europe from Servair etc. Would this not be a revenue source for YEG?

    There are a few different points to consider with the lounge. From a customer service perspective we do think there is some demand. We have talked with partners and know there is interest there as well. From a strictly revenue perspective, although a lounge would generate some revenue, it would also keep passengers within one location, meaning less shopping and/or dining – where we make more revenue. Finally, space is a consideration because there is very little available currently for this kind of an amenity.

    5. When and what impact do you see Open Sky's having an actual impact on YEG? Positively or negatively.
    Jasper: What is happening with open skies, what is open skies, can it - will it and should it benefit Edmonton?

    Entering unrestricted Open Skies agreements with significant global economies must be a Canadian priority. It is important to airports and airlines. It is a trade issue. And it belongs on the agenda of Canadian business and firmly atop the wish-lists of Canadian communities. If we were free of the current regulatory framework, the market could then decide the viability of flights between markets. However, as it is now, the existing framework renders the idea of building a business case for those flights moot.

    For example, for several years Edmonton had direct air service to the Netherlands provided by Martinair. However, despite Martinair’s desire to have this service to Edmonton designated as more than just a seasonal charter to improve viability and distribution, the federal government would not budge and the service was subsequently cancelled. Along with it went thousands of Dutch visitors to Edmonton who filled up hotels, dined in restaurants and shopped in the mall, this was an obvious and a direct hit to the prosperity of the people of Edmonton directly related to our restrictive air access policy.
    Last edited by Mr. Reg Milley; 12-03-2009, 11:54 AM.