The Gander International Airport Authority announced plans to restore its historic international lounge, described by the authority as the best-preserved Modernist room in Canada with a legacy spanning multiple wars and The Golden Age of Aviation.
Opened in 1959 with the blessing of Queen Elizabeth II, Gander International Airport, which has been run by the non-profit Gander International Airport Authority (GIAA) since 1996, was one of the busiest airports in the world. The terminal building was designed to showcase Canada’s finest architecture, designer furniture and art to international travelers.
The GIAA states the $1.5 million lounge project focuses on the preservation, restoration and adaptive reuse of the space. GIAA will renovate approximately 9,000 square feet of surplus space for a historic theatre, gallery and room for heritage preservation. The GIAA plans to introduce interpretive storytelling elements to profile the airport’s history. The renovations will include restoration of some of the airport lounge’s original furniture, decor and artifacts.
“Gander International Airport can be both a conduit to the world and a hub for the community,” said Reg Wright, president and CEO, GIAA. “This project seeks to reawaken, restore and repurpose underutilized space and spur economic development. While primarily a tourism-motivated project, waking up the lounge and returning access to residents and the world will be an exercise in place making. GIAA will adopt a new approach to an old airport with new promises and new opportunities.”
The Federal and Provincial governments will provide support to help the GIAA to renovate the space. The Government of Canada, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, through the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, are each contributing $500,000 towards the project. GIAA is also contributing $500,000.
“I commend Gander International Airport Authority on its vision and strategic plans for this underutilized space at the airport,” said Scott Simms, Member of Parliament for Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame. “Reviving this important part of Gander’s aviation history will contribute to tourism growth and lay a foundation for new business opportunities in this region.”
Gander International Airport (CYQX) offers scheduled and charter service from Air Canada, Provincial Airlines, Sunwing Airlines and WestJet. GIAA explains the airport plays a key role in the economic and community development of the Central Newfoundland region. The airport’s economic contribution includes 1,260 full-time jobs, $90 million in wages, $140 million in gross domestic product (GDP) and $240 million in economic impact.