2001 Air Show grounded
Popular annual event cancelled due to airport construction
By Kathleen Harris <kathleen.harris@ott.sunpub.com>

AIRPORT expansion has suspended this year's National Capital Air Show.

The popular two-day event, which was to take place June 2-3, has been cancelled until Sept 14, 2002, because of construction at the Macdonald-Cartier International Airport.

"While we're a little disappointed that we're going to break an 18-year tradition, we recognize how worthwhile the cause is. We'll just have an extra-super show next year," said show chairman John Issenman.

The annual event draws an average of 60,000-70,000 spectators each year, of which 90% are within a two-hour drive. The other 10% are aviation enthusiasts visiting from all over the world.

Issenman said children will be most disappointed by the cancellation of the show, which he describes as educational and entertaining.

In the past, the event has struggled with dire financial troubles caused by poor weather that reduced attendance, but Issenman says a lingering $185,000 operating deficit had no bearing on the cancellation. "This is a very recent decision, not based on financing, but on the airport," he said. "Overall, it wouldn't have been the great experience people have come to expect at the air show. You'd be standing up squished together watching fewer airplanes."

Leslie Miller, president of the Ottawa Tourism and Convention Authority was disappointed to learn about the show's one-year hiatus, but he couldn't immediately assess the impact on tourism dollars in the city.  "It appeals to a niche market, but it's also something else for those who are already here," he said. "We don't like to lose any attraction, and this just adds to the menu of things to do."

Miller hopes the blow of the Air Show's absence will be softened by other big-scale summer events like the Francophonie Games and the BluesFest.

One person who wasn't lamenting the cancellation of the show was Richard Sanders, co-ordinator of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade. Each year, he and others station themselves outside to protest what they see as a show that glorifies deadly weapon-carrying machinery. "In a way this, is a relief because it means we won't have to spend our time organizing a festival of peace," Sanders said. "But this is no moral victory for us. They're canceling it because of construction, not because it's  immoral. And it will be back next year."

Source: Ottawa Sun, March 13, 2001