The city has awarded the first contract in a multi-year, multi-phase, $50-million expansion of the Kelowna airport.
The $4.8-million contract, for part of the first phase of the plan, went to Delnor Construction. It will be used to expand the existing international arrivals area in the airport terminal.
The work will add space to the area that can currently handle 135 deplaning passengers and increase its capacity to 250 passengers.
“Currently, if we have two planes (that just arrived) on the ground at the same time, we have a problem off-loading everyone,” said airport director Sam Samaddar.
The expanded area will not only see more space added, it will also include the use of “green” technology and create a smoother flow of deplaning passengers by having them go through customs before retrieving their bags, just like in larger airports.
One of the design features in the new international arrivals area will be what is known as a rammed earth wall, which will use local materials and not reflect the colours of the local landscape but also be used to help transfer heat in the building. Geothermal and thermal massing will also be used in the construction.
The total cost of the first phase will be $7.9 million once additional work, such as upgrading the airport’s emergency generators, fire alarms and other safety equipment is completed.
The one-storey addition will include expansion of the terminal to the north and will provide a new Canadian Border Services Agency primary inspection area to screen passengers arriving on international flights.
As well as a new screening hall, public washrooms, an extension to the air-side corridor, new mechanical and new electrical features will be added.
Work on the project is slated to start next week and is expected to be complete by next fall.
Samaddar said the second phase of the project, to be started next year, will see improvements made to the outbound baggage system and that will be followed by an expansion of the domestic arrivals area in 2013 or 2014 depending on the volume of passenger traffic.
The expansion work is all part of the airport’s Drive to 1.6 Million, a move to ready the airport for the time when it sees 1.6 million passengers pass through the doors of its terminal.
That is expected in 2014 or 2015 and the airport director said the plan is to complete all the work before then.
The total estimated cost of the airport expansion is expected to be $50 million.
Kelowna’s airport, currently the 10th busiest in Canada, saw 1.4 million passengers pass through its doors in 2010.
Owned and operated by the city, it is financially self-supporting. The expansion work is being paid for by the airport’s existing improvement fee, which is attached to all tickets for flights out of Kelowna. The AIF is currently $12.
Samaddar said Delnor has significant experience in airport construction, most recently at Edmonton International.
“They will help ensure disruptions to passengers during construction are kept to a minimum,” he said, noting that the facility has to remain open and fully operational during the building work.