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Before he was tragically killed in a boating accident on Aug. 9, 2022, Goderich mayor John Grace was a steadfast supporter of Goderich Municipal Airport (CYGD).
The longtime local politician believed an airport is an asset to any community, and he was keen to explore ways to revive the facility, which typically runs a deficit every year. The airport, located five minutes from downtown Goderich on the shores of Lake Huron, has seen minimal activity since Sky Harbour Aircraft, a well-known maintenance and completions center, closed in 2009.
In April 2021, when the fate of the airport was being debated, Grace told CTV News: “Once you lose an airport and don’t build that asset, you lose it forever. You can’t come back in 10 years.”
At the time, the mayor had already investigated potential development options for the languishing airport. About two-and-a-half years ago, his search led him to connect with aviation consultant Waseem Javed, president and CEO of Revival Consulting Inc.
A 15-year industry veteran, Javed is a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and college/university instructor, with formal education in aviation management, aviation education development, finance, and aviation law. He also designed Algoma University’s aviation program, and has owned and operated several Ontario flight schools.
In his consulting capacity, Javed runs a team of 30 global experts who assist local municipalities with developing and managing their airports, among other services. Revival Consulting has worked with airports in Stoney Creek and Grimsby, Ontario.
“John Grace asked me to really think about Goderich as a business opportunity,” Javed told Skies. “They haven’t had much activity for many years; they have had a hard time reviving business there. They brought me in as a business development adviser and I was happy to assist John. I saw great potential in the airport.”
The Town of Goderich wanted Revival Consulting to become a stakeholder at the airport, eventually taking over its management.
“We made a heavy financial investment and laid out a plan,” said Javed. “We bought the biggest hangar, which is 35,000 square feet, and signed an exclusive no competition lease for 40 years. They gave us 12 acres of land for future growth and development.”
Big plans afoot
Javed has an ambitious vision for the municipal airport, which features three runways (the longest at 5,034 feet), several hangar buildings, and a small terminal.
True to its name, Revival Consulting is launching a major redevelopment that involves four distinct but interconnected business ventures: a flying school, an air taxi service, an aircraft maintenance operation, and the headquarters of an international airline.
In a recent interview, Javed explained the vision to Skies.
“First, we will have a flight school called Canadian Pilot Academy. We are now in the certification process with Transport Canada, and our lease at the airport starts on Nov. 1. We have the hangar, and we are renovating the space now to have the school operational within the next year.”
The training school will offer a fleet of Cessna 152, Cessna 172, and Piper Seneca aircraft.
“Our target audience for students will start locally; first, we will sustain a private pilot operation and then go from there,” said Javed.
Eventually, the goal is to build an entire aviation campus, complete with a student residence. Javed said Revival Consulting is currently exploring potential joint ventures with a few universities and “there is some interest in establishing a business partnership.”
He hopes the second business, an air taxi service called Canada 1, will also be operational within the next year. It will operate Piper Navajo twin turboprops.
“The air taxi will start on an on-demand basis, but when we are a bit closer to launch, I’d be very interested to see where people want to go,” said Javed, noting the proximity of potential clients at Bruce Nuclear Generating Station and in other nearby communities, such as Kincardine.
Goderich airport will also be home to a new approved maintenance organization (AMO) which will start by maintaining the flight school and air taxi fleets.
And, finally, Javed said Goderich airport is already the official headquarters of his new international airline start-up, Royal Canadian Airlines.
The business plan calls for the airline to fly out of Toronto Pearson and Hamilton airports, offering non-stop service to India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq. Javed said Royal Canadian Airlines will fly Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Two European aircraft have already been leased, with a total of five expected over the next five years.
“When we did our market research studies, we found that Canada, being so diverse, had some countries that have been totally missed by major Canadian airlines – some for political reasons, others for lack of local support,” said Javed.
“As a private entity with good international exposure, we were able to find niches. For instance, Kuwait is a huge Middle Eastern hub. No airline operates there from Canada but almost every country in the region is connected to it. We identified the most popular routes; we hired companies to do feasibility studies to ensure we were on the right track.”
While Javed is optimistic about launching the airline in 2023, he acknowledged Revival’s plan will take time.
“We have ambitious plans (for Goderich) and want to do it in a sustainable manner,” he said. “We want to build it right and grow holistically. I would say that in a five-year period, we are looking to create 50 to 100 jobs.”
When asked if he expects the current industry labor shortage to pose any problems for his ventures, Javed said that is where all four companies will achieve synergy.
“The reason why we are launching so many companies together is that a lot of the companies help attract staff for each other,” he said. “For example, a flight school needs instructors. We will start small and be realistic. We will offer employment to our best students. They will get experience as instructors and then move to a first officer position at the air taxi operation, and so on. It’s holistic, in-house career development.”
Revival Consulting is currently preparing to roll out an “aggressive” marketing strategy for its Goderich-based enterprises. Javed said the entire operation could be scaled significantly once the right infrastructure is in place.
“Strategically, Goderich can be a great airport,” he concluded. “It is a risk to come there without the customer base, but we are patient. Hence, we signed an historic long-term deal. No other airport in Ontario presents the type of development opportunities that Goderich does. The feedback from the community has been supportive. The town loves the airport and they would like to see it come back to life again.”
Javed credited former mayor John Grace as being the driving force behind the airport’s redevelopment.
“To honor his memory, our first aircraft will be named after him, as well as a future scholarship.”