CASE STUDY: SECURITY SOLUTIONS
YYC is a world class facility and premier global gateway—currently the fourth busiest airport in Canada, one of only three airports in the country to offer passengers non-stop service to both Europe and Asia, and offering the most extensive passenger service network in central Canada. With $290 million in annual revenues and $6 billion generated in economic activity, YYC is a strong growth generator for the city, region and province.
Since The Calgary Airport Authority assumed operational responsibilities for the airport in 1992, over $1 billion has been invested in renovation and expansion projects. During this time, the airport has more than doubled in size and passenger volume. Now 35 years old, the current terminal has 135 shops and services, 7,500+ parking stalls and 26 bus bays. To accommodate a continuous increase in passengers and also new and larger aircraft of the future, $2 billion will be invested into the Airport Development Program (ADP).
The ADP includes two major initiatives: The Runway Development Project (14,000-foot new parallel runway, on schedule for completion in 2014) and the International Facilities Project (Primary International/Transborder concourse and new parking structures, on schedule for completion in 2015).
- On-airport jobs: 24,000
- Passengers/year: 12.8 million (2011)
- Total GDP impact: $6 billion
- Current terminal (1977): 141,885 m2
- New terminal (2015): 183,500 m2
- Total land area: 21.34 km2
On April 1, 2011, The Calgary Airport Authority’s beloved Security Manager, James (Jim) Gordon Edward, passed away after a short and courageous battle with cancer. As a 27-year veteran of the Canadian Forces (RCAF Police and Military Police Branch), Jim was especially admired for his role as a key leader for the Canadian Embassy in Iran during the US Embassy Tehran Hostage crisis.
Since transitioning to a second career at the airport in 1988, Jim shared a strong work ethic, strength of character and a sense of camaraderie with commissionaires posted at the airport, many of whom were also veterans. “When we lost Jim,” reflects John Servos, who took over as Security Manager in 2011, “we lost a well-respected, competent security expert who knew his job, and this airport, inside out. My biggest challenge stepping into that role is I didn’t have the benefit of a mentor or even a transitional period. I had to pick up the reins and go.”
Two other challenges existed: First, the largest expansion project in the airport’s history had just broken ground a few months earlier. In addition, Commissionaires Southern Alberta had only recently replaced its General Manager at the airport. The timing of all of these changes demanded a swift, resourceful and well-coordinated response.
Although new to the role of General Manager responsible for over 220 commissionaires posted at the airport, Micheal (Mike) Scott was no stranger to the contract or the client.
Since 1999, Mike had climbed the ranks serving at various posts. As a 38-year veteran of the Canadian Forces with additional business experience, he had enjoyed a good rapport with Jim Edward.
Now reporting to John Servos, Mike made sure that he and his team of commissionaires were adaptive and accepting of incoming changes, and generous with briefings, suggestions and support. Mike says, “Commissionaires have been working at the airport for decades now. We were here when the terminal was built in 1977 and we were here when The Calgary Airport Authority took over in 1992. We know this airport, the airport community, and the many posts under our watch. John has been so respectful of our first-hand experience and welcomes our input. We have an excellent working relationship built on trust, communication and teamwork.”
John agrees, adding, “When I came into this position, it didn’t feel like a changing of the guard. Instead, it was more like a united effort with commissionaires to turn the corner and take airport security
Today, commissionaires are a reliable security presence throughout YYC—providing airside access control, security on the airfield, roving patrols through the terminal, support in the Security Operations Centre, and a synchronized response during emergencies. A dedicated group of security escorts are assigned to protect construction and expansion projects.
Commissionaires are especially recognized for assisting with traffic and parking control, which requires a strong focus on customer service. Mike says, “Security comes first, but we’ve also worn Smithbilt Stetsons or Santa hats, raised money for charities, gone above and beyond the call of duty to assist troubled passengers, and done our part to strengthen the Calgary airport community’s welcoming culture and excellent reputation.”
In addition to winning the Stampede Spirit Recognition 2012 award, commissionaires have been recognized in recent years with letters of appreciation from the Government of Canada, CSIS, RCMP, and Calgary City Police, to name a few. Some commissionaires have also been featured as Service Superstars on the Team YYC website managed by Peggy Blacklock, Manager, Calgary Airport Authority,(www.teamyyc.ca).
According to John, commissionaires have the good character, service-driven resources and staying power to evolve with the emerging and future needs of the airport. He says, “Security in this day and age is evolving rapidly. Because risk-based analyses are the new normal, we need to be less process-driven and more thought-driven. We’re accommodating new regulations and programs, and the need for specialized licensing and training. We also need to re-organize and enhance our security model once our older and new airport facilities are merged. More than ever before, commissionaires are factored in our security-related decisions, planning, and the integration of new processes and technologies.”