Samaddar new chair of Canadian Airports Council

Kelowna Airport Director Sam Samaddar is adding another title to his resume.

Samaddar has been elected as the new chair of the Canadian Airports Council - an advocacy group that represents more than 100 airports across the country.

He says serving as the Council's vice chair for the last two years will help with the transition.

"It makes it easier - I mean I've been on the board for many years, and I've always felt that if you want to lead the airport industry, then you need to be prepared to spend time on things like boards, and provide input that helps develop the framework on specific issues," he said.

He says a main function of the organization is to be unified as advocates.

"It makes it a lot easier for industry if you can work together on what the issue is, and then present a united front back to government," he said.

"Part of our advocacy work is not just within airports, but it also involves the airlines of course, which are our key stakeholder. And then our businesses."

As far as issues that are on his priority list, he says improving the experience of going through airport security is high on the council's to-do list.

"That's really a federal government responsibilty, in terms of making sure that there are enough resources available, as passenger traffic has grown. But also dealing with technology upgrades in the passenger screening process, which will provide the faster throughput."

Another priority he identified is being more efficient when it comes to moving people and cargo back and forth from the U-S.

"What kinds of things can we do as an industry, on a transnational basis, to provide better passenger facilitations? There are a number of areas that we feel that we can do a far better job, and certainly we need to lobby both sides - both Washington and Ottawa - to move those things forward."

Here in Kelowna, he says passenger growth continues to climb.

"We're averaging 7.5% (growth) to the end of April this year. This is our third year in a row (of rapid growth), which puts us at about 22% growth overall, which is very, very high for an airport."

After the completion of the outbound baggage hall, he says there are projects coming up this summer.

"We're continuing to do improvements to our aprons, which will allow larger aircraft to operate. And then later this summer, you'll see us adding another lane at Airport Way, to accommodate the flow of traffic, predominantly off the airport," he said.

Samaddar joined YLW as the superintendent of airport operations in 1992, and became airport direction in 2008.

The Canadian Council is a division of the broader Airports Council International. Its North America bureau is based in Washington, DC.