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AIRPORT DESIGN Last modified on January 8, 2017

PROJECT WATCH - Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport

Expanded terminal and introduction of new self-service technologies to boost gateway’s capacity and operational efficiency.

Project details

Location: Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Important developments: Creation of new self-service terminal, airfield enhancements and the opening of a US preclearance facility

Scheduled completion: 2018

Principal companies involved: Gagnon Letellier Cyr Ricard Mathieu (GLCRM); WSP; SNL Lavalin; Stantec; SITA, Pomerleau

Total investment: C$277 million (Excluding US preclearance)


Québec City Jean-Lesage International Airport (YQB) may have just turned 75 years old but it remains highly ambitious, and a series of ongoing developments at the gateway should pave the way for growth for decades to come.

Central to its plans are the expansion of the terminal building and recently announced proposals for a US preclearance facility that will make it quicker and easier for passengers to travel to between Canada and the United States.

Indeed, the gateway believes that the new facilities ensure that “great things are in store” in the years ahead as it cements its status as a key economic generator for Quebec.

“The airport has changed dramatically over the years to become a driver of economic growth in our vibrant, expanding region, as well as a hub for the thousands of passengers we accommodate every year,” notes Aéroport de Québec inc (AQi) president and CEO, Gaëtan Gagné. 

New self-service terminal

The key project of the airport’s YQB 2018 master plan is the C$225 million expansion of the existing terminal, which will raise Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport’s capacity to more than 2mppa by 2020.

The upgrade will effectively double the size of the terminal to 50,000sqm and allow for the addition of four new gates, new self service check-in kiosks and automated baggage drop-off facilities, extra baggage carousels and an expanded foodcourt.

The revamped terminal is actually being designed to be a 100% self-service facility.

“Our expanded terminal will essentially be a 100% self-service facility, meaning that the typical process for passengers will be to use self-service kiosks and bag drops, although agents will still be on site and there will be some hybrid stations for those that need additional assistance,” says Marc-André Bédard, the airport’s vice president of IT. 

“The initiative, which will help increase the airport’s capacity, is being driven by our desire to offer better services to passengers who want to go through the airport quickly and easily. 

“Other advantages of self-service technology include greater efficiency, more space and more flexibility. The new smart facilities also mean greater efficiency for the airlines and the whole airport community.”

IT innovation

The Canadian gateway is certainly no stranger to IT innovation and last year became the first in the world to introduce the Apple Watch as a tool to assist staff during a three-month pilot project with SITA.

Employees used the watches to connect to the airport’s management systems and push regular operational alerts to duty managers in a bid to ensure operations ran smoothly.

“We are always looking for new technology to help enhance our operations and ultimately better serve our passengers,” adds Bédard.

“Wearable tech is one area of interest to us and with the Apple Watch and SITA’s Airport Management solution our duty managers received important notifications at just the right time to take action as needed.

“For example, they were getting alerts to say that two planes were arriving simultaneously and have been assigned to the same gate or that there is a delay at a certain gate. 

“It was pretty useful because they didn’t have to look at their tablets regularly for updates. With the watch, a vibration alerts them to an update so they receive vital information just by glancing at their wrist. They can then take immediate action.”

Other projects

YQB 2018 actually involves a total of 20 construction projects, which include C$52 million set aside for the overhaul of the airport’s two runways, apron renovation and the creation of additional aircraft parking areas.

Construction has also started on a new heating and cooling plant that will use geothermal energy to provide the bulk of the airport’s energy needs, saving 200,000 cubic metres of natural gas annually.

The revamped terminal will have its own geothermal energy supply courtesy of 60 wells extending 550ft below the surface.

A perennial high performer in ACI’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) customer satisfaction awards – winning Best Airport in North America in 2010, 2011 and 2014 – Québec City Jean Lasage International Airport has a clear vision for the future and is quietly going about achieving its aim.

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