The Abbotsford International Airport has been refurbished under the federal government’s economic stimulus plan, as $30 million in funding has been stretched to cover more projects than budgeted.”Effectively, we’ve got a new airport,” said general manager Mike Pastro. “Every surface an aircraft would operate on is either new or in excellent condition.”The original plan submitted to Ottawa was to spend $30 million for a taxiway parallel to the main runway to allow more aircraft traffic, a wider main apron for more parking space for planes, and a new airfield electrical centre to provide backup power for the airport. It was to be funded equally between the federal, provincial and municipal governments.But sharp competitive bidding saw the projects funded for about $20 million. Any unused portion would have to be returned to senior government, but instead the city received approval to spend approximately $10 million on more upgrades, including:
- Milling and paving about half of the main runway, which had not been resurfaced since 1987.
- The terminal building is undergoing extensive updating and renovations. Pastro estimated the terminal should now be able to handle a million passengers per year, and is now taking about half of that.
- A run-up pad and 500-foot blast fence were constructed to allow Cascade Aerospace to safely test the engines of large planes on the ground without influencing other airport operations. Cascade maintains Hercules C-130s.
- The taxiway on apron two, which Pastro said was made with “World War II concrete,” is also being re-done. There was also rehab work done on the main apron.
- The milling material from runway resurfacing was used to construct a service road around the airport.
Pastro noted these upgrades had been on the airport’s long-term capital plan, and were not “make-work projects.”Abbotsford MP Ed Fast, all three MLAs and municipal politicians were on hand for a Thursday morning press conference announcing the new projects. The city is planning a gala opening and celebration at the airport in June.