CREblurb | Commercial Real-Estate in Ontario

North America’s Fastest Growing Airport happens to be in Hamilton.

North America’s Fastest Growing Airport happens to be in Hamilton.

North America’s Fastest Growing Airport happens to be in Hamilton.
October 15
08:53 2020

John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport was recognized as the fastest growing airport in North America in 2018 and progress on both the passenger and the cargo sides shows no signs of slowing down.

After 80 per cent growth in passenger volume in 2017, and the 2018 numbers increased another 21 per cent to almost 726,000. In just two years, HIA more than doubled its passenger traffic, while investing in its infrastructure, ground connections and airport amenities.

WestJet, Flair Air, Swoop, Air Canada, Norwegian Air, Air Transat and Sunwing fly domestic and international flights out of Hamilton. HIA offers an easier and convenient passenger experience than those of larger airports and is more economical for airlines, says HIA president and CEO Cathie Puckering.

“The entry of low-cost passenger air travel put us on the map in Canada and beyond,” said Puckering. “Our recognition as North America’s fastest-growing airport was picked up globally. The world is watching.”

Airport operator TradePort International recently announced an investment of $38.8 million over four years to upgrade two main runways to accommodate larger cargo and passenger planes, along with improvements to taxiways and airfield lighting.

Hamilton is already the largest overnight express freight airport in Canada. Business grew 14 per cent on the cargo side in 2017 and another five per cent in 2018.

HIA, which operates without a curfew, is a hub for large-scale cargo and courier companies, including Cargojet, DHL, UPS and Purolator.

“Our 24/7 operation is a huge advantage for us, along with our location in the midst of Canada’s largest and busiest trade corridor of nine million people within a two-hour drive,” said Puckering

HIA, which generated $1.2 billion in GDP in 2017, is a critical piece of Hamilton’s economic development action plan to make the city a North American gateway hub for logistics, distribution and goods movement.

KF Aerospace 

KF Aerospace, a leading aviation services provider, is investing in a $30-million expansion of its aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at HIA.

The company will add 150,000 square feet to its footprint at the airport, including a 75,000-square-foot hangar that will introduce wide-body aircraft capability and additional lines of maintenance to KF’s Hamilton operation. It’s expected to triple KF’s business in the Hamilton marketplace at a time of strong growth at the airport.

The company expects to add 275 jobs to its Hamilton workforce of 150.

The project will also see KF build state of-the-art shops, classroom and hangar space to provide hands-on learning for Mohawk College’s growing Aircraft Maintenance Engineer programs.

Construction on the hangar is expected to be complete in October, and Mohawk will commence classes in the new facility in August 2020.

“As the reliance on just-in-time delivery and e-commerce grows exponentially, keeping the planes that move these goods running will require a specialized and highly skilled workforce,” said Sue Rimac, business development consultant for the City of Hamilton.

“With this investment and partnership with Mohawk College, Hamilton will be home to some of the top aerospace technicians in Canada.”

The Airport Employment Growth District 

The first development in Hamilton’s Airport Employment Growth District –1,700 acres of greenfield surrounding HIA – is expected to begin construction in late summer.

Panattoni Development Company, which specializes in large distribution and warehouse developments, will build a 265,000-square-foot facility that can be used for a single tenant or split into units.

“Demand for space is very strong throughout the region but the GTA has historically low vacancy rates. It’s very difficult to bring new products online to keep up with demand,” said development manager Adam Lambros.

Hamilton’s airport land development strategy is premised on attracting investment that directly benefits from and supports the airport’s operations. HIA contributes $386 million in GDP and has grown the number of direct jobs from 2,800 to 4,500 in five years.

“The last six months have been a whirlwind of activity and inquiries from developers from all over the GTA, Canada and internationally,” said Guy Paparella, director, industrial parks and airport development. “Many big developers are looking for opportunities here and that momentum will grow as buildings go up.”

Developers serving the logistics, distribution and warehousing industries, along with light and advanced manufacturing and packaging sectors, are drawn to the proximity of a bustling cargo airport and the busiest port on the Great Lakes, strong highway links, and Hamilton’s strong geographical advantage, says Paparella.

They are also drawn to the opportunity to build structures of 500,000 to 1 million square feet, something few other municipalities in the GTHA can offer.

Phase 1 of the AEGD – about 450 acres north of Upper James and Dickinson Road – is fully serviced. Another quadrant at Highway 6 and Garner Road has development applications or sales agreements in place on virtually all of the 250 acres. The entire AEGD will be serviced in the next three to four years, says Paparella.

If you are looking for specific information on Panattoni’s Industrial Park at the Hamilton Airport District please contact Adam Lambros Development Manager at 416-915-1972 or email at

About Author



Lloyd Stevens has been writing Canadian business news for over 20 years with articles appearing in Perspective which appears in The Globe & Mail and contributing to and

Related Articles