Innovation is in the Air

Myron Keehn

Like other airports worldwide, Edmonton International Airport (YEG) is emerging from crisis management through the pandemic. Despite the challenges we faced, some truly remarkable opportunities emerged. In particular, our team had more time to concentrate on other priorities beyond the challenges presented by COVID-19. We became resilient and rallied together like never before, shifting our focus to spending a tremendous amount of positive energy on improving our airport’s innovative practices and processes. By changing our scope of work to be less preoccupied with the pandemic, we positioned YEG to be ready for takeoff when the world reopened. 

Myron Keehn will officially begin his duties as the new chief executive officer for Edmonton Airports in January 2023. Keehn leverages 30 years of private and public sector experience in North and South America, Asia and Europe to identify and implement effective new approaches to airport business development. Under his leadership, the Airport City Sustainability Campus at Edmonton International has set new standards for landside development and partnerships with emerging sustainable industries.

We focused on continuing to innovate and grow our Airport City Sustainability Campus, providing opportunities for businesses to push the boundaries in fields like artificial intelligence, drones, reforestation, and energy sources such as solar and hydrogen. Airport City is a magnet for investment, attracting more than $1.5 billion in private investment over the past nine years, and is an expanding center for transportation, cargo logistics, manufacturing, sustainability, technology development and tourism. The campus is an integrated ecosystem spurring collaboration and innovation while fostering the commercialization of emerging clean technologies. It is also home to Canada’s first consumer-facing hydrogen hub, bringing together local and international companies to form partnerships, test new technologies and showcase the power of emissions-free hydrogen fuel. 

Surge in Cargo

Interestingly, through the pandemic, we saw a surge in activity from dedicated cargo operators.  By the end of 2021, the overall cargo tonnage increased by 12.8% over the pre-pandemic baseline. This increase is remarkable because passenger flights, and associated belly-cargo capacity, were still reduced from pre-pandemic levels. 

YEG also became the first airport in Canada to achieve global certification for the safe handling of bio-pharma and agricultural exports and imports. There are only six other airports worldwide with this certification, meaning YEG’s cargo community meets the highest global standards for handling and transporting cargo that requires cold storage.

YEG is an attractive cargo hub as Canada’s closest major airport to many parts of Asia by circumpolar routes. We are also a strategic location to access Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and a major entry point into North America. As Canada’s largest airport by land mass, we have uninhibited room to grow cargo-focused infrastructure. We recently completed construction on our new 47,000-square-meter cargo apron, allowing us to accommodate six more widebody cargo planes. Recently, the federal government announced $100 million in funding to increase our cargo and logistics handling operation. The project will convert approximately 2,000 acres of land into a new global cargo hub, expanding our multimodal distribution throughout Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. 

We are also pushing boundaries in vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. In December 2021, YEG became Canada’s first airport to integrate drone logistics into its daily operation, and in May 2022, we began regularly scheduled drone delivery operations in controlled airspace.


At YEG, every business decision is driven by the triple bottom line of sustainability. We focus on managing airport assets responsibly, supporting environmental stewardship and driving regional economic prosperity. 

In 2021, YEG became the world’s first airport to sign the Climate Pledge, an Amazon-led initiative pledging to be carbon neutral by 2040. YEG and Air Canada also signed Canada’s first sustainability agreement between an airline and an airport. This partnership focuses on initiatives that promote a cleaner environment, including the electrification of aviation equipment, the development of sustainable aviation fuels, biofuels and hydrogen and many other actions to reduce and offset carbon emissions. 

YEG’s focus on innovation, non-aeronautical revenue and sustainability has transformed our airport into a global leader in airport operations and beyond. We can attest that it takes more than one to innovate. It is imperative to collaborate through meaningful partnerships and share our experiences with others worldwide.

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Fairbanks International Airport Baggage Transport Conveyor Enhanced With Mod Drive™ System

Fairbanks International Airport Baggage Transport Conveyor Enhanced With Mod Drive™ System

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