When will there be direct flights to Alberta? For the Nanaimo Airport team, this is a frequently asked question. “We know that our passengers are looking to the future and for us to attract new air carriers and with them new routes and destinations”, shares Mike Hooper CEO of Nanaimo Airport Commission. As a part of that growth strategy, the Nanaimo Airport issued a challenge in January 2012 to residents ‘use it and they will come.’ “Each time you, your friends and your neighbors fly from YCD, we are one step closer to attracting a new carrier. Although the process of attracting a new carrier can take several years, the reality is the more passengers we attract, the more attractive we become as an airport to new carriers,” explains Hooper.
Central Island residents are rallying to support the airport’s latest challenge. After finishing 2011 with record passenger levels, passenger numbers continue to grow in 2012 and are up 11% year over year. Nanaimo Airport passenger numbers are a count of passengers using scheduled carriers and are supplied monthly by the airlines.
“We believe the growth in passengers played a key role in Air Canada’s decision to increase their summer schedule to eight flights daily, which started May 1,” says Hooper. He also points out that Orca Airways announcement of twice daily service between Nanaimo and YVR’s South Terminal is further evidence that the increasing passenger numbers are having a positive impact on airline decisions. In addition to these latest service announcements, Island Express Air continues to maintain their service from Nanaimo to Abbottsford and Victoria, which they have offered for several years.
These expanded schedules and services mean central island residents now have 12 return flights each business day to the lower mainland to connect onto the world.
Hooper is optimistic about the future and direct flights to more destinations, “Our Airport team continues to proactively meet with air carriers to discuss the opportunity for new services and routes. Increased passenger numbers will be a key factor in attracting new carriers.”