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Ground transportation work paves way for new terminal.

Thunder Bay's airport is the third busiest airport in Ontario, and these days it is busy with construction.

Travellers using the airport are now being greeted by bulldozers and front-end loaders.

Work is under way on the second and third phases of a $45-million renovation and expansion of the airport. Utility upgrading and the construction of new parking lots and access roads is being done by Pierre Gagne Contracting Ltd. of Thunder Bay.

"We should be finished no later than Sept. 30," airport manager Paul Conrad says.

Once the $8.8-million ground transportation work is completed, work will start on a new $26.6 airport terminal. The project is scheduled to be completed by 1995, in time for the 1995 World Nordic Ski Championships.

The new 9,115-square-metre terminal will resemble an airplane wing (from the end view). The design was created by the Winnipeg architectural firm IOKY Partnership.

The three-floor terminal will be constructed east of the present building, which will be razed to accommodate an enlarged apron for loading and unloading passengers.

The first floor of the new building will house ticket operations, baggage pick-up facilities, car rental booths, small concession booths and a holding room (where passengers wait to board) for the regional airlines.

The second floor will house two holding rooms, two loading bridges for larger airlines, a concession area, a restaurant with an air-side view, a viewing area and mechanical rooms.

Administrative offices, a flight service station, leased offices and a majority of electrical and mechanical systems will be located on the third floor.

The existing terminal, also the 16th busiest in Canada, is currently operating at 143 per cent of its designed capacity, causing over-crowding and passenger inconvenience.

At peak hours during 1988 the airport was handling up to 340 passengers at one time. Transport Canada estimates that the figure will increase to 680 passengers by 1996.

Sixty per cent of the passengers fly into Thunder Bay in jets and transfer to propeller planes bound for smaller markets, says Conrad.

"It's just a reflection of the way the industry is going. Since deregulation airlines have been using Thunder Bay as a hub. It's the impact in regard to open skies," he explains.

Nine airlines provide service to Thunder Bay. These include Air Canada, Air Ontario, Awood Air, Bearskin Airlines, Canadian Airlines International, Canadian Partner, Kelner Airways, Mid Canada-Air and norOntair.

According to Conrad, "The airport is becoming a natural player in the community's economy."

It is estimated that on an annual basis the airport contributes $172 million to the local economy.
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Title Annotation:Thunder Bay, Ontario airport
Author:Brown, Stewart
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Aug 1, 1992
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