Comment 16516

By Don McLean (anonymous) | Posted January 01, 2008 at 20:40:50

Thanks for all the comments. I just wanted to respond to the figures about airport employment. The numbers provided by the airport managers are based on a study done in 2002 by InterVISTAS Consulting Ltd which investigated the economic impacts of the airport. It says "HIA supports 1550 direct jobs in the Hamilton area" and then expands this number to 3650 as "the total economic impacts, including the multiplier effects". While this is a 2002 study, the most recent reports by Tradeport to Hamilton council continue to use the 3650 jobs figure, and that makes sense because the airport activity has not expanded since 2002 and in fact the number of flights has declined as reported by Statistics Canada and summarized recently by CATCH.

Mark suggests one-quarter of the airport area employees could be convinced to take the bus. Unfortunately, the actual transit usage in Hamilton per day is about 6 percent of the trips. Six percent of 1550 is only 93 passengers. A 30-minute service would mean over 30 trips per day, so that works out to about 3-4 passengers per trip.

The "on-site employment" of 1550 jobs, however, is not confined to the airport terminal. The study indicates that over half (694) of the jobs are with "cargo companies", a reference to the presence of UPS and Purolator package handling facilities near the airport. HIA claims to be the largest cargo-courier airport in Canada (a claim also made by Winnipeg - but I've been unable to find any other reference to this term). I presume it means a lot of courier packages fly out of and into HIA. That mostly occurs at night which has been a sore point for neighbours (extending over much of the city - I hear them in lower Stoney Creek). Hamilton airport allows 24-hour flights, and this has been credited with making the airport viable.

The study says that 102 were employed as "Aircraft Handlers and Traffic Control", 95 people worked at the "Air Terminal Building", 85 were with "Government Agencies", and 45 with the "Airport Authority". The total employment also includes the Warplane Heritage Museum.

The claim for off-site direct employment is 123 people including 24 hotel employees.

As I noted in my article, the HSR has provided regular bus service to the airport twice in the last decade, most recently after this employment study was completed. It was withdrawn both times because of poor usage.

One of the reasons is that a substantial number of the cargo employees work night shifts - often split shifts - so while these workers are least likely to be able to afford a car, they need 24-hour bus service - something that the HSR doesn't offer anywhere in the city.

I suggested to HSR staff that the companies at the airport be asked to participate in an employer-subsidized transit pass program to encourage more use of the HSR and establish an economic argument for airport service. I was told this suggestion had been made and the companies had refused, saying they already pay taxes.

At this point, there is a private bus service between the airport and the downtown, and the city has contributed some monies toward the start up of this operation.

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