Skip to main content
All Posts By

Nanaimo Airport

More travel helps airport drive economic recovery

By Uncategorized

Air travel — a vital component of Central Vancouver’s Island recovery — is rebounding at Nanaimo Airport.

An estimated 20,000 passengers safely flew in and out of the airport in July. The total reflects a pattern of steadily increasing domestic travel that coincided with B.C.’s reopening under the guidance of chief public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. In June the airport saw 11,000 passengers. May’s count was 7,600.

More route options, enhanced safety protocols, a return of tourism, and pent-up demand for travel are driving the rebound. Air Canada resumed its direct Nanaimo-Toronto flight in the summer. WestJet added a Nanaimo-Edmonton route. The airlines also increased the number of flights to their hubs in Vancouver and Calgary.

More traffic at the airport means more economic benefit to the region, notes Dave Devana, Nanaimo Airport’s president and chief executive officer. The airport directly and indirectly sustains thousands of jobs that support Central Island families. It’s an essential transportation hub. And it serves as the Island’s gateway to the world’s destinations, markets and job opportunities.

Nanaimo Airport Commission has begun a $28.8-million capital plan that will further drive economic recovery. The plan calls for improvements to the airport over the next five years.

The rebound in passenger volume is in its infancy as the airport strives to return to pre-pandemic levels. July’s passenger count was approximately 50 percent of the July 2019 traffic. After setting a passenger volume record in 2019, the airport saw a 65% decrease in 2020.

The next step in the recovery requires a relaxation of Canadian restrictions on travel to international destinations, especially the U.S. The federal government is launching COVID vaccination certification for international travel.

Nanaimo Airport anticipates air travel will return to pre-pandemic levels sometime in 2023.

Edmonton route expands travel options at Nanaimo Airport

By Uncategorized

The Nanaimo Airport and its airline partners continue to drive the Island’s economic recovery. WestJet launched a direct Nanaimo-Edmonton route this summer. And it creates even more travel and business options for residents.

Two non-stop flights per week – Fridays and Sundays – connect the cities. A De Havilland Dash8 Q400 carries up to 78 people for the two-hour trip.

“We value our partnership with WestJet,” says Dave Devana, President and CEO of Nanaimo Airport Commission . “They continue to support the Central Island during reopening of the economy and tourism. Their investment in this route shows again how Nanaimo is an important transportation hub. It also demonstrates how the Nanaimo Airport helps drive recovery for the communities we serve by attracting investment.”

“As we look to the coming months with cautious optimism, we know our restart agenda will be pivotal to Canada’s economic recovery,” says Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “Stimulating air travel benefits all Canadians and supports those hardest hit; with one in every 10 Canadian jobs tied to travel and tourism, the ripple effect benefits our whole country.”

Both the airport and WestJet make safety a priority. The Edmonton route arrived as Canadian vaccination programs made significant progress. It’s also part of a measured reopening of the economy. “Our comprehensive plans help ensure passengers can travel safely. They can reconnect with family, friends and business and employment opportunities,” Devana says.

The route is a huge convenience for Islanders who work in Alberta. It also opens up leisure travel possibilities. WestJet offers global connecting flights from Edmonton International Airport. The airline also offers non-stop service from Nanaimo to Vancouver and Calgary.

“We’ve had a lot of requests for the Edmonton route from our communities,” says Devana. “We listened and have been working with WestJet to provide the service. We appreciate the confidence they’re showing in us. We also appreciate the continuing support from residents that makes us the region’s gateway to the world.”

Safety remains priority as direct flights to Toronto resume

By Advisory

As Canadian vaccination programs make significant progress, direct flights to Toronto have resumed on a limited basis at the Nanaimo Airport. Enhanced safety measures at the airport and on planes help ensure passenger safety.

The Air Canada Rouge flights are part of a measured reopening of the economy. They boost Vancouver Island’s vital tourism sector. Islanders can more easily visit and host family and friends from Eastern Canada and the Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The non-stop flights started after B.C.’s July 1 reopening date for domestic travel within Canada. One flight a week was initially scheduled. More flights may be added in August depending on the reopening plans and success of the vaccination programs in Canada.

Travellers fly aboard an Airbus 220, a narrow-body plane designed by Bombardier in Canada. It’s one of the most efficient and quietest planes in its class. It’s also the first Airbus 220 flight ever at the Nanaimo Airport. It accommodates up to 136 passengers.

“Air Canada is a valued partner that supported Nanaimo Airport during the pandemic. They continue to support us during reopening,” says Dave Devana, President and CEO of Nanaimo Airport Commission. “We share a commitment to safety. Our comprehensive plans ensure passengers can travel safely while reconnecting with family and friends.”

This flight signals the restart of air travel and the domestic tourism sector on Vancouver Island. Nanaimo Airport will resume its role as the central Island’s gateway. Connecting flights put domestic destinations, business markets and employment opportunities within easy reach.

“It also shows that Air Canada has a vested interest in Nanaimo Airport by putting this route, and specifically this new aircraft, on our schedule as we prudently look to reopen our economy,” says Devana.

Passengers are being welcomed at the airport’s award-winning terminal building. The terminal expansion project won the Community Institutional Award of Excellence in the 2021 Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards. The terminal earlier won an Illuminating Engineering Society award for interior lighting design.

Airport helps e-commerce boom, eyes cargo expansion

By Economic Impact, Uncategorized

Nanaimo Airport plays an important role in the explosion of ecommerce. It’s a role that ties into the airport’s plan for growth.

Many online orders made by Central Vancouver Island residents and businesses ship through Nanaimo Airport. Air transport is what makes fast delivery to your doorstep possible. It also creates opportunities.

FedEx Canada, one of the airport’s business partners, saw business jump some 45% over last year. E-commerce drove the surge. The company had to reconfigure its space to handle the deluge of residential parcels. FedEx also added another cargo flight here. And it boosted its trucking system to meet demand.

All the work required additional people to handle it. More employees and casual drivers were hired. The airport worked with the company to quadruple the size of its employee parking on site.

Land available for warehousing

Nanaimo Airport Commission plans to capitalize on the boom in commercial shipping. It will expand into air cargo warehousing and distribution services. The move will diversify airport revenues. Current revenue is primarily based on passenger travel. Generating more income from freight will help secure the airport’s stable financial future.

The space needed for warehousing and distribution is already earmarked. The airport’s land development plan makes about 35 acres in the northwest section available. It’s being marketed to developers and investors.

Transportation hub for region

Brining new investment and business to the area is part of the airport’s growth strategy. It plans careful management of its vacant land to create regional benefit.

The City of Nanaimo’s economic development strategy identifies airport development as key. The plan includes the goal of creating a transportation, cargo and logistics hub.

Nanaimo Airport also continues to cooperate with the Regional District of Nanaimo. The RDN is updating its regional growth strategy, Official Community Plan and zoning for a commercial/industrial area. And though the airport operates under federal jurisdiction, it champions our local communities. Nanaimo Airport Commission works with municipal, regional and First Nations governments.


Nanaimo Airport Looking to Future

By Uncategorized

Vaccination programs are progressing in B.C. and across Canada. As they do, Nanaimo Airport is prepared to welcome passengers back once they are ready to travel in a safety-first environment.

The airport remains cautiously optimistic that travel restrictions will be relaxed this summer and fall. It also remains committed to safety as its top priority. The airport and its airline partners have extensive safety measures in place.

Toronto, Edmonton Flights Planned this Summer

Air Canada and WestJet have proposed summer schedules that include a new route and the return of Toronto seasonal service. Existing routes get additional flights.

Here are the proposed options:

  • Expanded flight options to Vancouver by both airlines
  • Expanded flight options to Calgary by both airlines
  • The resumption of Air Canada Rouge flights weekly between Nanaimo and Toronto’s Pearson Airport. They start on July 3. Flights are planned for Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 5, 2021. Travellers will fly aboard an Airbus 220. It’s one of the most efficient and low-noise planes in its class. Its new to the Nanaimo route and will be set up with a 136-seat configuration.
  • New flight to Edmonton by WestJet, starting on June 25. Two flights are planned per week, on Fridays and Saturdays.

The expanded schedule upholds Nanaimo Airport’s role as the region’s “gateway to the world.” Travellers will be able to connect to Canada’s major airport hubs using the airport as home base.

Comprehensive Safety Measures

Nanaimo Airport’s safety protocols include a touchless parking app and self baggage tagging at check-in. These are in addition to mandatory masks, physical distancing, and enhanced cleaning and sanitization.

Air Canada and WestJet safety measures include defogging planes with hospital-grade disinfectant and screening passengers before boarding. Airplane HEPA filters can remove more than 99 per cent of bacteria and viruses. They circulate new air into the cabin 20 to 30 times per hour.

“We’re ready to welcome passengers back once they feel safe to travel again,” says Dave Devana, President and CEO of Nanaimo Airport.

Airport pollinator project enhances eco-system for sustainable future

By Community

Nanaimo Airport is buzzing over its latest environmental stewardship project. The airport is exploring a pilot program with Pollinators Partnership Canada (PPC) to create habitat on its land for native pollinators such as bees.

The program would be valuable for natural ecosystems and food production. An estimated one-third of the food we eat is a result of an animal pollinator. And bees are the most important contributors.

“Our careful stewardship of our environment is one of the many ways we contribute to a sustainable future for the region we serve,” says Dave Devana, Nanaimo Airport president and CEO. “Collaborating with PPC gives us an opportunity to enhance the work we do.”

PPC is a registered charity that emphasizes conservation, education and research. “Creating habitat for native pollinators and other wildlife demonstrates the commitment of Nanaimo Airport to the community, supporting biodiversity, mitigating climate change, and enhancing ecosystem service provision,” says a PPC report.

The project is in the early stages. PPC has reviewed airport lands to identify options for the site of a pilot program. The Planning and Development Committee of the NAC Board then supported moving ahead with a pilot on 4 potential sites.

The pollinator project joins a list of Nanaimo Airport Commission green initiatives. They all fall under the umbrella of the airport’s comprehensive Environmental Management Plan. “This project proactively protects the environment and connects our business values to our social responsibilities,” Devana says.

In February the airport opened four electric vehicle fast-charging stations. They were funded by investment by the federal and provincial governments and the Commission. The stations are part of the move towards a low carbon economy and widespread adoption of zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

And a groundwater management plan with ongoing water monitoring continues to safeguard the Cassidy Aquifer. The aquifer is a precious resource valued by all in the region.

Nanaimo Airport’s new EV chargers help users, environment

By Airport Improvements

Nanaimo Airport has enhanced our customer service and environmental commitment. We’ve opened four electric vehicle fast-charging stations.

Two stations are in the main parking lot outside the terminal building. The other two are in the rental car area. Drivers can fully charge most Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) in one hour. They’ll get a driving range of around 400 km. The airport offers free one-hour charges through July 2, 2021.

“We take pride in being pro-active with our environmental stewardship and we are always looking to enhance our great customer service. These Level 3 fast-charging EV stations serve both strategic objectives,” says Dave Devana, President and CEO of Nanaimo Airport.

“The EV stations will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions while enabling us to embrace sustainability. Nanaimo Airport Commission is excited to do its part, in cooperation with the federal and provincial governments, to move towards a low carbon economy and widespread adoption of ZEVs by 2040.”

Natural Resources Canada’s Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Deployment Initiative invested $200,000. The provincial CleanBC Go Electric Program and Nanaimo Airport invested $100,000 each. “We appreciate the support of Natural Resources Canada and the B.C. government to increase the EV fast-charging infrastructure along the Island’s most travelled highway,” Devana says.

Airport customers had requested ZEV charging facilities, he says. Passengers driving to the airport on battery power needed to use an EV charging station for the return home.

Nanaimo Airport Commission’s response to the requests support the vision of building a clean energy future. The federal government’s goal is to have 100 per cent of passenger vehicle sales be ZEV by 2040. More green options on roads will help reach that goal.

Nanaimo Airport consulted with leading EV infrastructure company ChargePoint to plan the charging stations. Island-based Durwest Construction led the installation.

The ZEV charging stations are among several environmental initiatives at Nanaimo Airport. In 2021 the Commission approved working with Pollinator Partnership Canada to pilot pollinator sites on airport lands.

Airport planning for $29M investment to help drive economic recovery

By Economic Impact

Nanaimo Airport Commission is taking a leadership position to help fuel the Central Island’s economic recovery with a $28.8-million infrastructure capital plan.

The investment over the next five years will enhance Nanaimo Airport’s infrastructure. It will provide additional route development options including Toronto, Edmonton, Kelowna and seasonal sun destinations.

“We’re pro-actively embracing our leadership role as a key economic driver for the region,” says Dave Devana, President and CEO. “Our investments will create jobs and opportunities with economic spin-offs that touch all corners of the region we serve. Our new infrastructure capital plan will help Nanaimo Airport and our region recover from the impact of the pandemic while ensuring the airport continues to meet the needs of leisure and business travellers for the next generation.

“We can safely reconnect travellers to the world when they’re ready to fly again. We’re looking to create even more options for our customers.”

Nanaimo Airport Commission adopted its 2021-2025 Financial Plan in November. The budget is based on a slow pandemic recovery with passenger traffic returning to 2019 levels by 2024.

“It’s important to note that no government taxes are used to finance our ongoing operations,” Devana adds. Nanaimo Airport Commission is a non-profit, self sufficient corporation. It generates revenue through passenger fees, parking fees and leases. All net income is reinvested in infrastructure improvements to enhance the airport. Government grants have helped fund capital projects, such as the new Airport Terminal Building, that enhance economic development opportunities in Central Vancouver Island.

The pandemic presented the airport with the most difficult financial challenges in its history. An estimated 181,072 passengers travelled through its gates in 2020. That’s down an estimated 63% from 2019. As a result, the airport forecasts a $1.4 million loss in 2020. It had anticipated a $2.5 million surplus in 2020.

“Our region depends on us for the transportation of people and critical supplies,” Devana notes. “Our Board of the Commission did a tremendous job of navigating extremely difficult circumstances to ensure we’ve been there for our communities.”

Nanaimo Airport: What’s Involved in Winter Operations Preparations?

By Uncategorized

Vancouver Island is lucky enough to experience less snow than the rest of the country, but to ensure the safety and reliability of flights, the YCD team still prepares early each year for any chance of a harsher than expected winter. These preparations include a variety of training programs and an entire fleet of snow removal and management vehicles. Here are a few details on what YCD’s winter preparation looks like:


 Snow and Ice Removal:

Snow removal techniques at Nanaimo Airport include a combination of the use of plow trucks, pickup trucks, runway sweepers, front end loaders, snowblowers and skid-steer loaders. We also have plenty of shovels, brooms, and urea spreaders to maintain a high level of safety both groundside and airside.  To keep surfaces ice-free, potassium acetate, sodium formate, urea or other de-icing materials are used. Different chemicals are used based on the severity of each situation and the area they are being used. Chemicals that are spread on the aircraft movement areas are later swept away ensuring the safety of the aircraft.  It is also imperative that Nanaimo Airport’s instrument landing system be kept clear of snow and ice. To ensure the highest level of safety is being maintained, regular inspections of the runways and all pathways are also conducted.

One of Nanaimo Airport’s Snowplows, pictured here towing a sweeper.


Aircraft Operations: 

Both WestJet and Air Canada teams also have winter de-icing processes in place. De-icing is removing snow and ice and preventing the future build upon the aircraft’s wings and tail. De-icing fluid, typically a mixture of glycol and water, is sprayed under pressure to remove the snow and ice.

Crews hard at work, deicing for an early morning flight.


Terminal Operations: 

Staff at Nanaimo Airport are trained to be diligent with ensuring the operations inside the terminal also remain safe for passengers. During the winter months, this includes increased cleaning of wet floors,  plowing and shovelling of parking and pedestrian paths, as well as regular updates on our social media pages to let passengers know of any road conditions that may cause delays. To see these alerts or any other updates, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


Want to read more about YCD? Check out the safety measures we have underway to help keep you safe. Click here.

Safety programs provide peace of mind for air travel

By Advisory, Uncategorized

If you’re unsure about air travel this winter, enhanced safety protocols can give you some peace of mind.

Nanaimo Airport (YCD) and its airline partners Air Canada and WestJet have taken comprehensive steps to reduce the coronavirus risk. And new trial programs being conducted in Vancouver and Calgary airports may lead to replacing the 14-day quarantine requirement for domestic and international flights. In Vancouver, for example, passengers could get virus test results in as little as 15 minutes.

“The risk of catching an infection on an aircraft is typically lower than in a shopping centre or office environment,” says the International Air Transport Association, the aviation industry’s global trade organization. And the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency, rates the likelihood of contracting the virus while on flights as “extremely low.”

Nanaimo Airport’s layered approach to airport safety includes a touchless parking app and self baggage tagging at check in (coming soon), mandatory masks and physical distancing. The measures are in addition to enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols that help protect the entire airport community, from travellers to YCD staff to employees of businesses based at YCD.

Once aboard planes, passengers benefit from even more safety protocols implemented by Air Canada and WestJet. The steps range from using hospital-grade disinfectant while defogging planes to screening travellers with temperature checks before boarding.

Powerful HEPA filters in the planes have a bacteria and virus removal efficiency rate of more than 99 per cent. “Very few travelers know that the HEPA filters circulate new air into the cabin 20 to 30 times per hour, and the circulation is primarily top down so any contaminants are removed from the cabin through the floor,” explains Dave Devana, President and CEO of Nanaimo Airport.

YCD connects travellers to airline hubs in Vancouver and Calgary. Both airports are conducting Rapid Testing Programs that could reduce or eliminate the need for passengers to quarantine.

Devana says Nanaimo Airport and its partners continue to make passenger safety the priority. “When our customers are ready to travel we will provide a safety-first environment.”