GRANT HAMILTON/BRANDON SUN
The small waiting room for passengers at Brandon Municipal Airport, which was built approximately 40 years ago.
The first major delay at Brandon Municipal Airport shined a spotlight on some of the flaws and limitations of the air terminal.
The airport’s lobby area. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
The more than three-hour delay, which was caused when a Second World War-era biplane crashed at the airport, left many passengers grumbling about their flying experience at the terminal.
Bathrooms isolated from the security area, limited access to food and beverages and cramped quarters were just some of the issues raised from flyers.
Tim Sanderson, director of transportation services for the City of Brandon, said the second phase of upgrades to the airport would address some of the problems experienced during the delay.
"The layout of the terminal was designed during a simpler time," Sanderson said.
Upon entering the airport, flyers are immediately confronted with the security queue. To the right is the WestJet ticket office; to the left is the secured area for people waiting to fly.
The security area looks like something right out of the late 60s- early 70s era. The seats are orange and the room is just big enough to seat the 78 passengers that make up a full plane. The 5,800-square foot terminal, which was built approximately 40 years ago, isn’t set up for post-Sept. 11 standards that are far more stringent than in the past.
"After 2001, after all of the new security regulations that came with it, we have to separate intending passengers from the regular public and that effectively cut our space into a third," Sanderson said.
The setup appears somewhat makeshift, but it’s also the best that can be done given the space and standards that must be met by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Sanderson said the upgrades would change the terminal’s layout. He also pointed to the fact the upgrades are one of the top infrastructure priorities as submitted by Brandon City Council in the latest round of the federal Tory government’s New Building Canada Plan as a sign that the city is serious about remedying the problems.
As it stands now, the airport couldn’t accommodate any mid-to-large passenger movements.
It’s an ambitious plan that would cost approximately $1.6 million.
It includes the installation of a baggage carrousel and revised arrivals hall, relocation of the security and queue areas that would include restrooms, construction of new, updated ticketing counters, updating of surfaces, furniture, lighting and mechanical systems and potential retail spaces, such as a rental car counter, retail kiosk or vending expansions.
Sanderson believes it’s important to act soon if Brandon wants to take the next step in the aviation market.
"We want to do whatever we can to make sure the experience flying out of Brandon is as good as possible, but we also want to provide more."
One potential downfall is the semantics of trying to upgrade a facility that would still have to act as the terminal during renovations.
Sanderson said it’s important not to disrupt any services to the city during the process.
"We want to make sure that we do it right and not just for today but something that has the capability if or when the service expands," Sanderson said, "and we’d like to do it sooner than later."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 13, 2013