Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik August 17, 2016 - 8:30 am

Welcome to the Taj Mahal of Nunavut airports

Passengers will see more space, better luggage conveyors, bathrooms in the security area

THOMAS ROHNER
This is an area inside the new Iqaluit terminal building, called
This is an area inside the new Iqaluit terminal building, called "The Rotunda," which is slated for a restaurant and gift shop and could also be rented out for public functions. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)
Barry Reimer, the GN project manager for the new airport, beside the entrance to a bathroom that will serve one of the new terminal building's security areas. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)
Barry Reimer, the GN project manager for the new airport, beside the entrance to a bathroom that will serve one of the new terminal building's security areas. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)
Here's an area where check-in counters will be installed, with a baggage track in behind. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)
Here's an area where check-in counters will be installed, with a baggage track in behind. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)

Iqaluit’s new airport, scheduled to open in August 2017, is set to become the Taj Mahal of Nunavut air terminals.

And it’s sure to raise the envy and ire of other communities, many of whose airports are badly in need of upgrades.

Barry Reimer, the Government of Nunavut’s project manager for the $300-million Iqaluit airport improvements, led media on a show-and tell tour of the project Aug. 16 — a tour that included a look at the new terminal building that’s still under construction.

The new terminal will feature 16 check-in counters, two lanes of spacious security screening and five departure gates, as well as retail space for a restaurant and gift shop.

Perhaps best of all, two circular baggage belts in a separate room mean travellers to Nunavut’s capital will no longer have to clamber over each other to claim their baggage.

Parking will be provided immediately in front of the new terminal for more than 100 vehicles, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, Reimer said.

And areas designated for taxi parking, passenger pick up and drop off means the overall congestion of the new terminal will be much lighter than at the existing facility.

The new terminal is expected to open by Aug. 9, 2017, Reimer said, but the rest of the improvements are scheduled to wrap up by the end of that year.

Reimer said roughly half of the $300-million construction budget will be spent on improvements to the airfield, which will include runway repaving and new lighting.

In 2014, the GN chose a private consortium to build and run the new airport for 34 years.

That group includes Bouygues Building Canada and its subsidiary Sintra Inc. Sub-contractors include Tower Arctic Ltd. and Kudlik Construction Ltd., both of which are deemed to be “local” firms.

Engineering firms Stantec and the Quebec-based Genivar have also grabbed a piece of the action and the Winnipeg Airports Authority will act as “service provider” through a new entity called Nunavut Airport Services Ltd., which will manage the airport for the GN.

The total cost of the project, included financing costs over 30 years, was estimated in 2014 at $418.9 million, a GN document said.

More than half of the two-hour media tour unfolded on a school bus that took reporters around the tarmac to view those improvements.

“One of the big objectives is to create commercial space for new tenants to come onto airport space,” Reimer said on the bus.

To that end, land on the north side of the west end of the airport is being developed, said Reimer.

A westerly extension of the asphalt surface, on which planes can taxi, will be flanked on the north side with “highly desirable” commercial space for aviation companies to build things like hangars, he added.

Federal Road will not be paved as part of this project but a new road off of Federal Road, North Commercial Road., will service the extended space and will be paved, the GN said.

Overall, there will be a “significant increase” to the airfield’s apron — the asphalt surface for parking and aircraft: five taxi-ways for aircraft, that is, two more than exist today, Reimer said.

And one taxi-way will be big enough to accommodate the biggest commercial planes in the world.

Over the past two summers, workers have been repairing cracks and damage to the existing asphalt. Next summer they will resurface all of the asphalt.

Another major component of the improvement project involves enhancing the airport’s environmental performance, Reimer said.

That’s why the GN is decommissioning the underground fuel pipes that lead to four fuelling stations on the tarmac.

Currently, aircraft have to wait to fill up at one of those stations.

Instead, fuel trucks will fill up at an above-ground station and drive to where an airplane is parked, said Reimer.

“From an environment perspective, pipes are something that’s not done anymore.”

But airport infrastructure is a sore point for many MLAs, who regularly bring their concerns up during sittings of the legislature.

The federal transportation minister recently told Nunatsiaq News that the lack of paved runways in Nunavut is a top concern for Nunavummiut.

 

Here's gate 5 at the new Iqaluit airport terminal, which would be used for international flights. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)
Here's gate 5 at the new Iqaluit airport terminal, which would be used for international flights. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)
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