?The Niagara District Airport has appointed Daniel Pilon, the Niagara Region’s associate director of organizational performance, as interim chief executive officer.
A Friday release from the Region said Pilon has nearly two decades of experience in providing strategic communication and business support services, through being a key advisor to the regional chair and CAO, managing multi-million-dollar budgets, liaising with both the federal and provincial government and managing corporate communications.
Pilon also played a “pivotal role” in helping to secure the 2021 Canada Summer Games in Niagara, the Region said.
The secondment comes after the airport’s commission and the municipalities of Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake — which currently fund the airport — asked Niagara Region consider taking a larger role in airport operations back in 2015.
The Region said it is still conducting studies to see whether it will be more largely involved, though the appointment of Pilon as CEO will “provide it with the opportunity to support the operations and governance of the growing airport.”
Terry Flynn, chairman of Niagara District Airport, said the airport is experiencing unparalleled growth and interest right now.
He said the airport has put together a “strong operations team” and now needs to focus economic growth, daily flights and future development.
In October, FlyGTA, which provides daily commuter flights between the Niagara District Airport and Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto, announced an expansion to three other Ontario cities (Barrie, Kitchener/Waterloo and London) with Niagara having paved the path.
FlyGTA president Chris Nowrouzi said the airline would be ceasing cargo operations and focusing solely on passenger flights, and in addition to the new flight routes, the airline will be building a large-scale maintenance facility at the Niagara District Airport.
He said the maintenance facility will be more than 40,000 square-feet, and construction of a second maintenance facility will begin shortly after its completion.
In an October interview, Flynn said the airport would also be getting a new four-storey communications tower, more than 70 new hangers (both private and commercial) including luxury hangers, as well as the ability for the management of small jets.
“One of the key pieces that was missing from the infrastructure of the airport was the ability to have a maintenance facility, so when flights were coming in — in particular larger jets — they could be maintained while they were at our site,” said Flynn.
He said the new maintenance terminals will range in sizes to accommodate different planes, and will allow planes to be fixed and fuelled on site, opening up a wide range of options for the future.
This will allow Niagara to do things like get its own Ornge unit, Flynn said, hinting he’s been in talks with the emergency rescue group about the idea already.
He said the airport has no plans of expanding its runway, but that they want to “use its infrastructure to the fullest capacity.”
Flynn said he is “eager to see the positive progress Pilon will make regarding marketing, establishing strategic goals and helping the airport move forward with governance.”
“(Pilon) will help us take full advantage of the many opportunities that are available to the airport, while strengthening our relationship with Niagara Region.”