The formation of the DLRAAI and the subsequent transfer of the Deer Lake Regional Airport from Transport Canada to the Authority in December 1998 was the direct result of the National Airports Policy, promulgated by the Federal Government in July 1994. The intent of the policy was for the government to remove itself from airport operation/ownership by April 1, 2000. The government created classes of airports based on annual passenger volumes, and offered airports to local interests on terms specific to each class. The Deer Lake Airport was classified as a Regional Airport as its traffic volume was, at the time, less than 200,000 passengers per annum. The transfer mechanism for this class was the outright sale of the lands, assets and chattels to local interests.
In April 1996, a steering committee was formed to review the transfer process, to make a recommendation to the Deer Lake and Corner Brook Chambers of Commerce on how to access money to assist in the transfer process, to establish the composition of the Board of Directors, and to ensure reasonable opportunity for the public and carriers to have input. In addition, they were asked to consider the option of operating the airport under a contract to a private company. The steering committee members included Charles McCarthy, Walter Sheppard, William Lundrigan, Pierre Meagher, Jim Goudie, William Lowe, Carl Stratton and Walter Dominie.
This steering committee completed its tasks and was disbanded on June 4, 1996. The DLRAAI was established on October 31, 1996, and an interim Board of Directors was put in place. The members of this interim board were Charles McCarthy, Joseph Hutchings, William Lundrigan, Carl Stratton and Jim Goudie. The Board of Directors was later expanded to include Ray Pollett from the City of Corner Brook and David Osmond from the Great Humber Joint Council. The Authority was incorporated on January 23, 1997, and signed a letter of intent with Transport Canada on February 4, 1997.
The Authority entered into extensive negotiations with Transport Canada, which resulted in an Agreement of Transfer signed on October 30, 1998 with the actual transfer effective as of December 1, 1998.