Celebrating Amazon and 80 Years

By Heather Romito

In October 2020, John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (Hamilton International) celebrated its 80th year of operation. Hamilton International is owned by the City of Hamilton and managed under an agreement by TradePort International Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of industry-leading investor, developer and manager of airport assets, Vantage Airport Group.

A strong and healthy corporate culture is important to Hamilton International and Vantage, who credit a focus on ‘People, Place and Performance’ for the Airport’s continued success in delivering profitable and sustainable services. According to Cathie Puckering, Hamilton International’s President and Chief Executive Officer, the key to achieving this strong corporate culture is by emphasizing teamwork and recognition as core values.

“We are committed to creating a positive experience for our people each day by being friendly, having fun and recognizing achievements. Since the onset of the pandemic, a large portion of our team has been working remotely while our essential employees remain on site to ensure our Airport continues to operate safely and efficiently. We are committed to maintaining our corporate culture from a distance and look forward to reuniting our team members when it is safe to do so.”

As a demonstration of this commitment, and in lieu of a formal anniversary celebration, the organization’s leadership team brought employees together online over the holidays to enjoy a virtual comedy show.

Airfield Rehabilitation and Modernization Project

In June 2019, Hamilton International embarked on an Airfield Rehabilitation and Modernization Project to fully restore and update the two main runways, as well as the supporting taxiways and lighting systems. To minimize closures and service interruptions, work to the airfield is being completed in phases. With the dramatic decrease in passenger activity brought on by the pandemic, the Airport was able to continue with the second phase of its four-phased approach and complete the construction activity of the phase ahead of time and on budget.

The total cost of the project is $38.89 million, with Hamilton International receiving funding that will cover almost half of the required budget through Transport Canada’s National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF). TradePort International is funding the balance as part of its capital investment plan.

“Modernization of Hamilton International’s runways, taxiways and lighting systems will ensure longevity of this critical infrastructure, position the Airport to continue serving a strategic transportation and trade corridor, and better equip the Airport’s infrastructure for continued growth in this sector,” says Puckering.

Transporting more than just people

In addition to moving people, the movement of cargo and goods has always been key for Hamilton International. And while COVID-19 kept passengers somewhat grounded this past year, the e-Commerce surge and increase in demand for essential medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) has resulted in peak levels of cargo activity for Hamilton International.
Locally, the Airport’s strategic location and efficient operations make it appealing to companies serving the Southern Ontario market. With its well-established express cargo operation, no curfew restrictions and Canada Customs on site, the Airport provides seamless and expedited air cargo services, both domestically and internationally. In fact, Hamilton International is the largest overnight express cargo airport in Canada.

Per the Airport’s President, “As a gateway for facilitating the movement of goods across Canada and around the globe, the Airport offers safe and secure facilities for its 24/7 operations while partnering with key cargo companies such as Cargojet, DHL, UPS as well as Amazon, Canada Post and Purolator.”

In November of 2020, the City of Hamilton was officially designated as a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). This designation will further benefit Hamilton International operations and businesses looking to tap into new markets through air, port, rail and road.

Speaking of Amazon

Also beneficial to Hamilton International and the City of Hamilton is Amazon’s recent decision to open a new 855,000 square foot fulfillment centre in Hamilton, adjacent to the Airport. Expected to open in late 2021, the new facility will bring more than 1,500 new, full-time jobs to the Hamilton area and represents yet another cause for celebration for the City and Hamilton International.

Helping to educate future aerospace engineers

The Airport is also making its mark as an important collaborator and investor in local academia. Mohawk College already has a dedicated classroom and hangar space at the Airport for their Aircraft Maintenance Engineer program. The program has 300 students currently enrolled and an 80 percent graduation and placement rate. In 2021, Hamilton International and Mohawk’s Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering programs will take things up a notch with the Mohawk College Centre for Aviation Technology, which is nearing completion and features a purpose-built hangar, classrooms, labs and specialized shops.

Puckering says, “Mohawk College’s partnership with KF Aerospace, Canada’s largest commercial maintenance, repair and overhaul company, at Hamilton International will further contribute to workforce development in our community by providing real-life, hands-on experiences and integrated skills training in a state-of-the art facility, helping supply well-rounded candidates for the aerospace sector.”

Dedicated to Hamilton

Cathie Puckering was born and raised in Hamilton and attended Mohawk College and McMaster University. She joined TradePort International in 1999, bringing a valuable mix of skills acquired in private industry for over 15 years. Cathie held progressively senior roles at Hamilton International and in March of 2018, she was named President and CEO. In 2019, the Canadian Forces made her an honorary Colonel for Squadron 436 in Trenton, Ontario.

Looking ahead, Hamilton International is focused on serving the public safely through the pandemic and continuing to contribute to the local economy in various and significant ways. “The Airport is committed to serving as an economic driver for the City of Hamilton by leveraging opportunities in the growing cargo sector and seizing emerging opportunities through land development by partnering with key developers and companies.”