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Stephenville Airport transfers ownership to Dymond

Carl Dymond

Carl Dymond announced his intention to purchase the Stephenville Airport in Sept. 2021.

This article has been updated to include an interview with Carl Dymond

STEPHENVILLE, NL – After almost 2 years of wheeling and dealing, the Dymond Group of Companies has been transferred ownership of the Stephenville Airport from the Stephenville Airport Corporation. The deal was first announced in September 2021. The announcement came via a company press release on Monday morning, Aug. 28.

“We’re excited to announce a milestone as we confirm the successful transfer of ownership of Stephenville International Airport to Dymond Group of Companies. Owner, Carl Dymond, is delighted to report the finalization of the deal which marks the beginning of a transformative journey for the region.”

After almost 20 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, Dymond has been longing to get home to the province.

“I know what it feels like to be away from home and the joy of getting back to family and community. We hope this venture is a way home for the many families who had to leave the Bay St George (BSG) area. We’re hosting an open event at the airport in the coming weeks to discuss shared success over a cup of tea.”

On Sept. 9, Carl Dymond, CEO of the Dymond Group of Companies, first announced his intention to purchase the airport from the non-profit Stephenville Airport Corporation (SAC).

“I feel great. This is a good thing for everybody,” said Dymond in his first interview since the deal was finalized. “From the official announcement to now has been almost two years. We’ve been working on it since late February, early March, 2021. So I guess after the new year, it’d be close to three years.”

Given the significant delays, there was plenty of vocal opposition speculating that the deal wasn’t legitimate, but there were reasons behind the numerous delays.

“It was really just the chronic mismanagement of this airport for the last 25 years, and that’s not to put the blame on the current, now soon-to-be former airport board. It was a lingering legacy. Problems from the titles to the bankruptcy to really finding out what was under the hood at the airport, because the current airport board couldn’t have known everything that was there and lingering over the last 25 to almost 30 years,” said Dymond. “So it was a lot of issues that were discovered just in title searches, and in Newfoundland, nothing is digitized. It’s all people in basements going through banker boxes.”

Even though the delays were frustrating, it was a valuable learning experience for the Dymond Group.

“What we’ve learned will set us up for success in the future. We learned a lot of hard lessons on this airport, but at the same time, we’re a much better company because of it, and this is going to be a much stronger airport because of it,” said Dymond.

Some work will begin almost immediately.

“The sign is going to be changed this morning, or at least work will be started on the sign. We want people to know that we’re here and we’re here to stay,” said Dymond. “Over the next couple of weeks now, infrastructure will be brought in to be put up, like hangars that we set at the airport to attract the airlines in. We’re going to have to have a place to house them if they need to stay. The sea spray is very difficult on plane engines, so we want to be able to get a couple of hangars up, and that’s when I require hiring locals to put those up for us.”

The deal itself was actually finalized before the weekend, but wasn’t announced until this morning via a corporate press release.

“We actually finished it off on Friday (Aug. 25) afternoon, late Friday afternoon. I think we had 22 minutes in the business day left to spare when it finally was completed, so it was all hands on deck, lawyers from both sides. It’s commendable how hard they worked to finish this off,” said Dymond. “On Friday, it was just incredible, and from the airport side, Lew Short has put in no lack of effort to get this finished. It’s incredible, the work he’s done with the airport board on that side to get this over to finish line on Friday.”

Dymond offered praise to the current airport board for their work to try to get this deal finalized.

“There’s always obstacles when dealing with a group of volunteers, but Willie McNeil and his board there were phenomenal to deal with in every respect,” said Dymond.

Lew Short, who worked for Winnipeg Airport Services Corp. (WASCO), has yet to accept the contract offered by Dymond Group.

“The Winnipeg Airport Services, WASCO, they finished their contract about a year ago, so Lew is actually employed directly by the airport since the contract finished with WASCO. That wasn’t our choice. That was something the airport finished off,” said Dymond. “We know WASCO very well and they are an incredibly professional organization when it comes to airport management. They made a great choice in Lew. I think it’s just at the time with the airport board’s finances, it was too expensive for them to continue on that contract. We have offered Mr. Short a contract he has yet to accept, but we’d be a much better company with Lew Short at the helm of this airport. I can guarantee you that.”

Now that the deal is done, an event is being planned to celebrate.

“Our focus wants to be on the community, the people that have supported us from day one, and we know it’s been a long go. I could only imagine for the people not in the know how long it’s been. So we want to have something really community-focused that’s going to make an impact in their lives,” said Dymond. “This airport is for them and we want to make sure that the event that we have that we have planned is going to be very impactful to let them know that we’re here and we’re here to do good. We’re certainly a business that is for profit, but it’s going to be for profit with purpose.”

The plan is also to push once again to get regular flights coming into the airport.

“We were talking to the airlines, and now that we own it officially, we can negotiate with those airlines. Before, it was so up in the air that a lot of them would not commit to us unless we had the deed in hand,” said Dymond. “Now that we do now, we’re going to be pushing really hard for these airlines.”

Dymond does plan to return to the area soon.

“I think I’ll be there hopefully next week or the week after. It’s the last week of holidays before the kids go back to school, so I kind of want to spend some time with my family this week just because it’s been a busy summer where I haven’t been around much, so I want to spend some time with the girls before they go back to school and then focus on everything,” said Dymond. “The airport will still run while I’m being Dad, but these girls have sacrificed a lot for me to be able to get this airport, so they deserve their last week of holidays.”

Dymond is extremely appreciative for the community support.

“I just want to thank everybody in the Bay St. George region for their support. It has been a long journey, but what we want to do with this airport is we want to keep the kids from leaving and going to Fort McMurray to work. We want to open opportunities. We want to have a generational shift in mentality that this province and western Newfoundland,” said Dymond. “Bay St. George especially will just be abound with opportunities moving forward. I would love the kids that are in grade 10, 11 and 12 now to stay here and get educated and work here, and then the kids that are going into kindergarten will only grow up knowing opportunity. That’s what we want.”

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