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James Cherry has invested close to $2 billion in improvements at YUL (Sat Feb 13th)


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Super de belle entrevue ici (Ça confirme plusieurs de nos discussions)

 

As city goes, so do airports (2016-02-13 page B1)

 

As chief executive of the non-profit authority Aéroports de Montréal, James Cherry has invested close to $2 billion in improvements to Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport over the last decade. He sat down recently with Montreal Gazette contributor Peter Hadekel.

 

Q What economic impact does an airport have on a city?

 

A You may have the best airport in the world but if there isn't an economically vibrant city behind it to drive that traffic, then airlines aren't interested. We are more profitable and have better growth than most of the other airports, but our bond rating isn't as good. The reason is that more than 50 per cent of the rating of an airport is the economic activity in the city around it. Our ability to offer air service is far more affected by the economic vitality of the city. (I know Mark, you told us many times)

 

Q Why did it take so long to convince Chinese airlines to come here?

 

A They weren't necessarily convinced that this was a viable market. It took us years to convince them. Now we have Air China flying three times a week to Beijing and they are enchanted with the results (GREAT). The next logical thing would be for Air China to offer more than three times a week or ultimately, within a few years, go daily.

 

Q So what's the key to getting more destinations?

 

A The city has to be realistic. I get people telling me all the time: 'Why don't you have a daily flight to Helsinki? It's an emerging city.' Well, take a look at the numbers: 10 people a day go from Montreal to Helsinki. I'm sorry, you're not going to get a flight there. In order to get a direct flight at least three times a week, depending on the type of aircraft, you typically need between 30,000 and 40,000 passengers a year.

 

Q What destinations are you adding in 2016?

 

A Reykjavik and Lyon are starting in May. Air Canada to Casablanca is starting next summer, as well. Philadelphia, Denver and Houston are also starting this year. Remember, it's very tough for an airline to make money just on tourist business. They need that business traffic, that's what pays the overhead.

 

Q What about the market for connecting passengers going through Montreal?

 

A It's 18 per cent and growing, but that's not considered high. Toronto and Vancouver would be about 30 per cent. We've been targeting something like 25 per cent. Virtually all that connecting traffic is on Air Canada. We have more destinations for people to connect to today. There are 140 destinations served directly by this airport with more than 30 airlines. Transit passengers are very important because there's revenue to be gained from having them go through your airport. They are also important to justify a flight. There are two or three European destinations to which we would not have flights, were it not for connecting passengers. Zurich, Brussels and Geneva are good examples.

 

Q The domestic traffic in Toronto is three times what it is here and in Vancouver and Calgary it's close to two times. How do you explain that? Calgary it's close to two times. How do you explain that?

 

A Quebecers don't fly domestically. They don't vacation in Alberta, B.C. or Ontario and the business traffic here is as much north-south as east-west.

 

Q You offer financial incentives to attract airlines to serve Montreal. Is that getting more expensive?

 

A Yes it is. Airlines know that everybody wants them. They will not establish a new route unless they are getting some sort of incentive. The logic of it is that the upfront cost tends to be expensive because of promotions and everything else. And there's a period where they tend to lose money so we offer them some support, usually in the form of lower landing fees or a budget to help them promote the flight.

 

Q Is the cross-border competition significant from airports like Plattsburgh and Burlington? Do you feel it?

 

A No, and it's going down this year because of the dollar. It's way down.

 

Q You have complained in the past about the rent that Aéroports de Montréal is charged by the federal government and the property tax due to the city of Montreal. Is that still an issue for you?

 

A Yes, I take every opportunity to talk about it but I know it falls on deaf ears. So far, the federal government has shown absolutely no interest in solving the problem. The city of Montreal is even worse. They just close their ears. Between the two of them, we will pay close to $100 million this year. Property taxes and rent take 20 per cent offthe top just to provide a public service. This is happening across the country. More than $300 million a year goes to the government of Canada from the airports.

 

Q In the surveys that you do, what is the biggest concern for passengers using the airport?

 

A Access to the site is the No. 1 complaint: getting in and out, traffic, the Dorval Circle. I'm still looking at the bridge to nowhere (part of the new Dorval interchange under construction). It's been a bridge to nowhere for five or six years. We rebuilt all the roads on this property to match with it. This was all supposed to be ready in 2011. We spent $100 million of our money making that happen and it was done on time. And we're still waiting for the project to be completed.

 

Q What's going on with Mirabel following the decision to demolish the passenger terminal?

 

A Mirabel is still operating for freight. There are between 15,000 and 20,000 aircraft movements there. Business aircraft use it, too. Bombardier is up there with Pratt Whitney. We characterize it as a business, industrial and freight airport. We're going to put between $50 million and $60 million up there in the next year to redo the principal runway. We're not abandoning Mirabel; the vocation is solid. The decision wasn't made in a vacuum. We consulted with the city of Montreal, the Quebec government and Transport Canada. There was nothing wrong with the process. We were very highly accountable.

 

Q Part of the debate about keeping Mirabel as a passenger airport was the noise and congestion issue at Dorval. Do you think you've managed that issue adequately?

 

A Essentially, over the last 14 years we've doubled the passengers at this airport with the same number of aircraft movements. (interesting) The airlines have gotten very good at this. They don't fly half-empty planes. Is it perfect?

No - there will always be people who are not going to be happy with noise. (Also, YUL dates back to 1941; nobody was around then...Overall noise also went down since

 

Q What's the case for public transit to the airport? A We have over 11,000 parking spaces here and for three months of the year, there's no room. I don't want to build more parking spaces because I think it's a dumb thing to do and will encourage more people to bring cars here. We need two things: a Dorval Circle that works and a train that connects to downtown.

 

Q The Caisse de dépot et placement is looking at funding the rail project. Do you think this is providing some new momentum?

 

A It's interesting. They haven't progressed far. But from our perspective there should be better transit to the West Island that incorporates the airport. If the Caisse makes this happen, we're ready. We've done all sorts of ridership studies and feasibility studies, and we've given them all of it.

 

Q You have a train station location that's ready in the centre of the airport?

 

A Yes. In 2006, when we started the project to build out the U.S. jetty and a new hotel, we had a choice to make. We said: 'If we don't do this now, we're going to shut off any possibility of having a train station.' So the shell is there. We're parking cars in it now but it could be fitted out within a year and ready to roll.

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Sorry, but as usual I find Cherry to be too much of a complainer. He is the key leader for the future of our airport, and instead of inspiring us with his vision, he harps on about all of the problems he is dealing with. His job is to solve these problems and he is paid good money to do so. Push the government to complete the Dorval circle; get a railway option that makes sense (at least all of our delays can now allow him to benefit from the experience of the Toronto fiasco!).

 

I have a copy of a speech he gave a couple of years ago about the new airlines he expected to come here. He was totally off the mark.

 

He has done a very good job on infrastructural development and I like the way he has handled Mirabel. Now, lets get moving on increasing the traffic and, if AC is not going to prioritize YUL as a hub, get another airline here who will.

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On ne parle plus de Shanghai en septembre?

 

Yes , it is interesting that he made no reference to it. However, there seems to be no doubt that the application has been made by Air China (see article below). CAAC wasn`t giving much time for comments and the deadline for any objections was the end of December. I would be surprised if the approval is not forthcoming. It certainly seems to fall within the spirit of the bilateral agreement between China and Canada, but I haven`t found any further news on it since this article on Dec 22.

 

http://www.chinaaviationdaily.com/news/49/49789.html

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AC:

If Memphis can be a hub; if Frankfurt can be a hub over Berlin, if Cincinnati can be a hub, if Salt Lake city can be a hub, if Minneapolis can be a hub, then Montreal can easily be a hub. It has a population of over 4 million, and a better location and a stronger economy than any of them. The last person to make an intelligent decision about Montreal`s potential is a blindfolded angryphone living in the past.

 

Build it and they will come. Someone with the determination could probably turn Buffalo into a world class hub.

 

Of course the first choice of most airlines at this point will be Toronto over Montreal. Thanks to AC that is where the traffic is.

So are we supposed to play dead? Throw our arms up in surrender? Build up the argument as you do constantly that there is an inherent inferiority in Montreal? in Quebec? That`s the angryphone message and it is BS. I have lived in several of the major cities around the world and I wouldn`t trade a single one of them for Montreal. We have our warts like anyone, but we do our best to deal with them; not hide them under the rug.

 

YUL can and will grow, one airline at a time, if necessary, and we are getting close to that critical mass where traffic will shoot up exponentially.

 

Cynics think they are the realists who know better; actually they are intellectually lazy, bereft of vision, and totally incapable of assessing human potential.

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If Memphis can be a hub; if Frankfurt can be a hub over Berlin, if Cincinnati can be a hub, if Salt Lake city can be a hub, if Minneapolis can be a hub, then Montreal can easily be a hub.

 

Could you explain to me how Memphis, Cincinnati, Minneapolis are a hub?

 

By passenger count, they do not seem to be a hub to me...

I quickly glanced over the destinations served by those american cities, and most of them are domestic flights.

They barely have any international flights to start with.

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