Ogdensburg Airport in expansion mode to attract Ottawa passengers
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Tuesday, July 8, 2014 6:11PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 8, 2014 6:55PM EDT
Ottawa’s International Airport will soon have some tough competition from the Ogdensburg International airport. The tiny town an hour south of Ottawa is about to get a giant makeover.
Canadians are already driving south to the United States in search of cheaper airfare. Ogdensburg is waking up to that and is now looking at expanding in order to attract forty thousand new passengers.
As you approach the airport outside Ogdensburg, it is hard to believe the tiny little building houses an international airport. Clearly size doesn't matter. Here it's all about price.
“We’re going to Boston,” says Sarah Rodriguez, as she rushes into the airport, “We got it for $190 and I think the other prices were about $600.
Rodriguez and her friend Millie Young, both from Ottawa, arrived 10 minutes before their plane left. They still got on.
Kathrina Douglas, also from Ottawa, was just returning from Boston; a trip she takes twice a month to visit her boyfriend.
"It's about $200 to $300 dollars cheaper, especially if you book in advance. With tax it comes to $75 bucks so there and back, $150 bucks, not bad.”
We did a quick comparison. Booking today for a direct flight this Saturday from Ottawa to Boston and back would cost nearly $1700 here. Cape Air from Ogdensburg, connecting through Albany to Boston is $219.
Right now Cape Air is the only carrier in Ogdensburg, but that's about to change. Just last month, Allegiant Air announced that it's signed on to offer flights from Ogdensburg, hoping with bigger jets to increase traffic by about 40,000 passengers a year. Where they'll be flying has yet to be determined but Allegiant Air already operates in 98 American cities. With soaring air costs here, it's estimated five million Canadians are already taking their business elsewhere. Ottawa's airport says the Ogdensburg expansion could hurt them but they are hoping the government will help make Canada more competitive by lowering the aviation air taxes and changing federal policy.
Competition from smaller American airports along the border is already impacting other Canadian cities like Montreal. Ottawa appears to be the next target.
"The reality is that if they built that longer runway in Ogdensburg, says David Stewart Patterson with the Conference Board of Canada, “and if Alligiant offers flights at lower prices to more places, there could be a significant threat to Ottawa.”
No one from the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority was available to do an interview with CTV Ottawa. A quick check of cars in the parking lot at the Ogdensburg airport showed of the 20 there, about one-third had Ontario license plates. By the way, parking is free on site.