Category III Instrument Landing Systems Operational at St. John's International Airport

News Release

Airfield Accessibility & Safety Initiative Complete Ahead of Schedule and On Budget

January 28, 2016 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador – Transport Canada

Member of Parliament Nick Whalen speaking at event marking completion of the St. John’s International Airport’s Airfield Accessibility and Safety Initiative

St. John’s International Airport Authority announced today that its three-year, $37.3 million Airfield Accessibility and Safety Initiative is fully complete with Category III Instrument Landing Systems (CAT III ILS) now operational on both ends of the primary runway (R11/29). As a result, the airfield’s accessibility is enhanced significantly to 99% during low visibility conditions, allowing an estimated 700 more flights and 70,000 more passengers to arrive and depart annually without delays or cancellations. The project was completed on budget and ahead of its estimated completion date of March 2016.

The Airfield Accessibility and Safety Initiative was cost-shared between the Airport Authority, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Government of Canada. The federal contribution of $12.4 million comes from the Gateways and Border Crossing Fund in support of the Atlantic Gateway and Trade Corridor Strategy. In addition, NAV Canada installed and will maintain the operation of the CAT III ILS technology. The provincial government’s contribution is $13.8 million.

Quick Facts

  • Since 2013, extensive improvements were made to the Airport’s airfield to allow the installation and operation of CAT III ILS by NAV Canada. Significant amounts of terrain were removed from the airfield; centreline lights were installed on the runways and Terminal Building apron; runway end safety areas (RESAs) were constructed at each end of both the primary and secondary runways; and newer and taller approach towers were erected at both ends of the primary runway. The Airport is also the first in the world to incorporate LED lights on these new approach towers.
  • While these improvements were being made, the Airport Authority rehabilitated its primary runway at an additional cost of $15.7 million. The primary runway was scheduled to be rehabilitated in 2017 as part of its regular maintenance schedule. However, this work was planned to be completed to coincide with the work associated with the Accessibility and Safety Initiative in order to avoid closing the primary runway more than once within a two year timeframe. With this work complete, the primary runway will not require any substantial construction work for at least 15 years. 
  • St. John’s International Airport is the only Canadian airport that serves less than 10 million passengers annually to employ CAT III ILS. The implementation of this technology will be transformational for the Airport, and will reverse the region’s reputation for being an inaccessible location, especially during the foggy season.


"We are delighted to announce the completion of this project that will have significant, long-term benefits for our city and our province. The improved reliability of our Airport will enhance the attractiveness of our region for business investment and tourism for many years to come. I would like to thank the Government of Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and NAV Canada for partnering with us in this substantial investment in our Airport and our community."
Art Cheeseman
Chair of the St. John's International Airport Authority Board of Directors

"The work we celebrate today supports this airport's continued importance to Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as its valued role in the air industry in Canada and around the world. By supporting such projects, we are demonstrating our confidence that Atlantic Canada offers unique potential as a route for goods and people travelling to and from North America. This project will also enhance efficiency, accessibility and the level of safety at the airport for travellers, flight crews and airport employees."
Nick Whalen
Member of Parliament for St. John's East, on behalf of the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

"The completion of the Airfield Accessibility and Safety Initiative is a step forward in support of both the business and tourism industries in our province. The St. John's International Airport provides an important link in the province's transportation network and our government is working to ensure we have a system of transportation that meets the needs of citizens and supports economic development."
The Honourable Al Hawkins
Minister of Transportation and Works
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

Associated Links


Delphine Denis
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

Sara Norris
Marketing and Communications Advisor
St. John’s International Airport Authority
709-758-8756, 709-725-3460

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