The Saskatoon airport is aiming high by setting its sights on the ground.
At its annual general meeting Wednesday, the airport authority announced big changes to parking services and the facility’s front entrance.
“We are making investments to make the parking experience better,” said Saskatoon airport CEO Stephen Maybury.
One notable change is a move to provide premium valet services, which will be connected to a new patron lounge.
Passengers will be able to drop off their keys and have other vehicle-related errands – such as oil changes and detailing – taken care of while on their trips.
Additional services, including dry-cleaning and coat checks, will also be available down the line. The valet service is slated to roll out in 2018.
“Time is important to our customers, so that was the vision around our decision to add the premium service,” Maybury said.
Currently, the airport’s main lot, which faces the front doors, provides parking at $14 per day.
Adjacent to that is a jetSet parking area, southeast of the airport building, offering spots at a daily rate of $12.
By the end of 2017, the jetSet lot will be completely relocated to an area off 45th Street and Airport Drive, where a designated shuttle service will run to transport passengers to the airport.
Chad Munchinsky, manager of terminal and customer services, said the change means patrons will be able to reserve a parking spot anytime online.
“You book your hotel, you book your plane ticket and you book your parking,” he said.
The new jetSet lot will initially add 900 new parking spaces by the end of 2017, with long-term plans to develop the area for a total of 3,000 stalls.
To make room for the shuttle drop-off, the airport is redeveloping the building’s front curb.
Munchinsky explained the curb will be widened and split into two lanes with an island in the middle to accommodate separate commercial and public foot traffic.
“It’s congested because we’ve grown so much,” Munchinsky said. “It’ll be more welcoming, more functioning – with the capacity to operate the shuttle.”
The change, which will be done in phases through 2018, will also afford more room for city buses stopping at the airport.
The airport authority couldn’t provide further details on pricing for the new services, or the cost of parking investment, because it’s in the early stages.
The airport made a $10.9-million profit in 2016.
No changes to direct flights
The airport doesn’t plan on adding any more direct flights anytime soon.
“There’s only so much you can do with a community of 250,000 people,” said Leslie Prosser, Saskatoon airport board chair. “We’ve been working very hard to maintain what we have now.”
Maybury added the current focus is continuing the airport’s relationship with Delta Airlines in order to keep the direct flight to and from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“Saskatoon really values that direct flight, so we are working hard to ensure it stays,” he said.
– With files from Daniella Ponticelli and JT Marshall.