Huronia Airport boosts local economy by $3M annually: study

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Oct 18, 2019 by Gisele Winton Sarvis  Midland Mirror

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The Loomex Group presented a business review of the Huronia Airport on site Oct. 10, saying it has a postive return on investment. Delivering the report is Matt Braithwaite, general manager (left), Zach Premate, Trent Gervais, CEO, and Jay Amer. – Gisele Winton Sarvis/Torstar
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Loomex Group representatives, who presented a business review of the Huronia Airport Oct. 10, flew back to Peterborough in a plane (left) after the meeting. – Gisele Winton Sarvis/Torstar

Three municipal owners of the Huronia Airport want to know if it’s worth it to continue owning an airport, so they hired Loomex Group of Peterborough to study its viability.

What did the consultants conclude?

Loomex general manager Matt Braithwaite reported the airport has a positive return on investment, and that it needs to focus on expanding general aviation services and make a stronger connection with the tourism sector.

What is the economic impact of the airport?

Loomex consultants calculated the total impact to the community to be between $3 million and $3.35 million. Braithwaite reported the airport is healthy and has opportunities for growth.

How many jobs does the airport support?

Twenty-four. Most of those come from Zenair, which employs 18. Duker Aviation has two, airport staff is two full time and one part time, and aircraft sales is one full time and one part time.

What size subsidy do the municipalities provide?

The total municipal investment is $115,337 annually. Fifty per cent ($57,668) comes from Midland, 28 per cent ($32,294) from Penetanguishene and 22 per cent ($25,374) from Tiny.

Tay Township currently does not subsidize the airport, but Loomex suggested forming a partnership with Tay to reduce the cost for other municipalities.

What happened with the Collingwood Regional Airport?

The Town of Collingwood sold its airport for $4.1 million to Winterlands Developments in August. The municipalities of Clearview and Wasaga Beach had contributed annually to support the airport, but Collingwood funded operating losses to the tune of $2 million over the last decade.

What are the current weaknesses of Huronia Airport?

Stakeholders interviewed by Loomex said poor internet service is currently limiting the airport’s ability to attract aerospace businesses. Also, there is a general lack of awareness of the airport, which is disconnected from tourism offerings. 

What aviation services could be expanded?

Establishing a flight school/pilot training, expanding maintenance and repair business, expanding charter flights for cottagers and Great Lakes cruisers, and attracting aerospace business were four suggestions put forward by Loomex.