Bob Sartor, president and chief executive officer of YYC Calgary Airport Authority, in the new International Departures area at Calgary International Airport.
Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

To say Calgary International Airport is a hive of activity is almost an understatement.

Consider that this year alone, it will help more than 17 million passengers travel by air.

Add to that 150,000 metric tonnes of cargo, and it’s hard not to see the importance of YYC.

“We handle 75 per cent of the air cargo that comes into Alberta,” says Bob Sartor, president and chief executive of YYC Calgary Airport Authority. “All told, about 24,000 employees work here.”

The “city within the city” is an economic juggernaut, too, generating about $8 billion in commerce for Calgary and surrounding area annually.

“What’s also interesting is we’re the busiest connecting airport in Canada in relation to our total passengers,” he adds. “That means we’re dealing with a lot of passengers who might, for example, be flying out of Winnipeg, coming into Calgary, and connecting with a flight to Palm Springs.”

Of course, it’s not just the United States. It’s linking passengers with China, Japan, Europe and other global destinations.

“We’re pretty well connected for a prairie town.”

A 2,023-hectare campus in northeast Calgary, YYC is more than a hub for passenger travel. It’s a logistics mecca, too. Businesses involved in energy, technology and agriculture are among the companies that rely on the airport for a constant flow of goods coming in and out of the city.

But the airport offers much more.

“We have an awful lot of land to use for other purposes,” Sartor says. “Whether it’s time-sensitive agritech needing quick access to aviation, or companies involved in supply chain management, we have the opportunity to develop other businesses on site.”

Think half airport; half business accelerator. YYC brings together innovative businesses in one place and connects them with the world.

“We’re looking at companies that aren’t startups, but are well advanced and commercializing.”

Still, what the airport does best is keep people and cargo moving — 24/7, 365 days a year.

That said, it also showcases Calgary to the world — from electric-powered food trucks to pop-up stores featuring artisanal fare.

“It’s a microcosm of Calgary — its food, craft beers, art and culture,” Sartor says. “We want all of those experiences to come alive within our terminal.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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