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‘Much more comfortable experience’: Lethbridge Airport shows off new upgrades

Click to play video: 'A sneak peek into the Lethbridge Airport as upgrades near completion'
A sneak peek into the Lethbridge Airport as upgrades near completion
WATCH ABOVE: Lots of planning and millions of dollars later, renovations at the Lethbridge Airport terminal are nearly complete. Eloise Therien has more on what the city is hoping to achieve with the newly-upgraded airport, and what still has to be done – Dec 7, 2021

Upgrades to the Lethbridge Airport terminal are nearly complete, after many months of planning and construction.

Renovations focused on enhancing the customer experience, while increasing passenger traffic, revenue diversification through land development, fire safety and more.

Some updates to the terminal area include new modern seating equipped with charging capabilities, expansion of the hold room, and new washroom facilities.

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Many of the upgrades at the Lethbridge Airport are now complete. Eloise Therien / Global News
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The critical infrastructure projects are funded through a $2.6-million investment from the city, leveraged into an additional $23 million in provincial and federal grant funding.

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Cameron Prince, the airport operations manager, said the renovations have made the facility much more bright and welcoming.

“You now have washrooms on the air side,” stated Prince. “You don’t need to go back and forth through security, so a much more comfortable experience all around.

“This has been huge, so I’m really excited to see where we’re going.”

Read more: Ready, set, go: Air travel taking off again at Lethbridge Airport

In addition to upgrades that improve functionality and comfort, such as a new baggage carousel, Prince said some of the upgrades also focus on safety.

The airport was built in 1979, and upgrades to the runway lighting system were needed. As well, the water supply has been made safer.

“Funding’s been put into place to actually essentially remove that whole old (water) system and bring in a brand new pipeline from the city, and that actually brings up the safety of the water where we don’t have to worry about constant testing and things like that,” he explained.

“I’ve been out here numerous times flying out of Lethbridge and to be able to see the change is extraordinary, it’s amazing,” said Mayor Blaine Hyggen, who was accompanied by other council members during a tour of the facility on Tuesday.

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“When you can get less than 10 cents on the dollar to do an expansion like this, it’s fantastic.”

Air Canada pulled its operations from the airport in March 2020, leaving WestJet as the only commercial airline at the facility.

Click to play video: 'Travel changes for Albertans heading to U.S., those arriving in Alberta'
Travel changes for Albertans heading to U.S., those arriving in Alberta

Lisa Trent, director of corporate and customer services, said there has been a noticeable decrease in travel volumes since the the onset of the pandemic.

“We’re currently sitting at 11 flights per week to Calgary, and coming in December we’ll be at 14 flights per week, so we’re nowhere near where we were pre-pandemic,” she said.

Trent added their focus is on returning to pre-pandemic levels while also setting sights on the future.

“The more people realize there is an airport here — and it is an accessible airport, it’s got the infrastructure here to really grow into the future — I think it’ll be huge increase to the economy here,” Prince added.

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The timeline for the completion of airfield and pavement rehabilitation upgrades is set for 2023, with the city planning a grand opening for late next month.

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