All Posts By

Nanaimo Airport

Nanaimo Airport now Island’s second busiest airport

By | Economic Impact, Uncategorized

After a record-setting year, Nanaimo Airport (YCD) now stands as Vancouver Island’s second busiest airport.

2018 saw 435,349 travellers on 800+ commercial flights pass through Nanaimo Airport gates. It’s the highest total in YCD history and the ninth straight year the airport has set a record. With Air Canada Rouge resuming its seasonal non-stop service to Toronto this summer, and WestJet offering daily flights to Vancouver and Calgary, Airport President and CEO Mike Hooper expects that streak to continue in 2019.

“We make it so easy and convenient for people to connect to Canadian and international destinations, and without the headache, hassles and expense of travelling to major airports like Vancouver or Victoria,” he says.

The airport is in the midst of a $15-million Air Terminal Building expansion. It includes an enlarged departure lounge and expanded security screening area, making the airport experience faster and more comfortable for people. Work is expected to be complete by fall 2019.

“The Nanaimo Airport team here has done an incredible amount of work to plan for and manage our rapid growth,” Hooper says. “We’re investing in our infrastructure and we’re implementing a 20-year master plan for developing our available land. That’s creating new opportunities for businesses and investors. We’re also making sure airlines know about the fantastic opportunity here to launch new routes and expand their existing service.”

The airport is also at the centre of the new Vancouver Island Foreign Trade Zone, which will help attract businesses that import and export goods.

Nanaimo Airport is a major economic driver for the region. It generated more than $ 370 million in economic activity for the region in 2018, and more than 2,000 jobs that support Central Island families. “Our operations create benefits for all of the communities we serve,” says Hooper. “All of our success is due to our dedicated team and to the strong partnerships we have built.”

An historic year: Toronto flight, record traffic, expansion

By | Airport Improvements

2018 was another record-breaking year for Nanaimo Airport.

More than 435,000 travellers went through our gates. Ground was broken on a $15-million expansion of our Air Terminal Building. A seasonal direct flight to Toronto launched (and will resume later this spring). And we completed a master land development plan that will guide our growth for the next 20 years.

Here’s a quick review of these and other highlights from 2018:

  • Direct Nanaimo-Toronto flight takes off

Business and leisure travellers jumped at the opportunity to travel across the country in mere hours thanks to Air Canada’s non-stop seasonal service. And they can do it again this year as the flight to Toronto returns later this spring.

  • Passenger traffic soars

For the 10th consecutive year we smashed the previous record for the number of travellers. We’re proud to be Central Vancouver Island’s airport of choice.

  • Air Terminal Building expands

To accommodate the record-breaking traffic, we’re adding an extra 14,000 square feet to the terminal. Construction began in the spring and has progressed on time and on budget. Passengers will enjoy more room, comfort and convenience when the work wraps up in the fall of 2019.

  • Land development plan shapes future

Nanaimo Airport Commission created a 20-year master plan for our available land. It was produced after consulting with the communities we serve. The consultations culminated in a charette (planning forum) with our stakeholders to map out potential development strategies.

  • Infrastructure investments pay off

Improvements to the apron for aircraft along the runway, and to our parking areas, helped prepare us for continued growth.

  • Airport fuels jobs, economy

Our operations generated $358 million in economic activity for the region, and more than 2,000 jobs that support Central Island families. Our role as an economic driver will be enhanced by the inclusion of the airport in the new Vancouver Island foreign trade zone, which will help businesses import and export goods.

  • Community partnerships thrive

We happily supported many community projects, ranging from the B.C. Summer Games in the CVRD to the Nanaimo visit by the world-famous Snowbirds to the Festival of Lights in Ladysmith.

5 tips to simplify your winter travel

By | Simplify Your Travel, Travel Tips

Chasing the sun this winter? Planning ahead can ensure your flight gives you a vacation from stress as well as from local weather, says Nanaimo Airport’s Customer Care team.

The airport offers a convenient starting point for central Islanders looking to avoid congestion at larger airports, where lineups are long during the busiest travel time of the year. The central Island’s airport of choice offers hundreds of connecting flights through Air Canada and WestJet. And you don’t need an expensive ferry ride/hotel stay to take one.

To help your travel go smoothly, the Customer Care team offers the following tips:

    1. Arrive early
      Get to Nanaimo Airport at least 90 minutes before your flight. If you’re driving yourself, allow a few more minutes to park.
    2. Go through security as soon as you can
      More people travelling means more people – and baggage – going through security screening. Fortunately, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), which is responsible for screening, upgraded its system earlier this year to handle more volume. Even with the extra capacity, it’s a good idea to go through security early. You can then relax in the expanded departure lounge. There you’ll find TVs, a play area for kids, and food and beverage machines.
    3. Know what you can bring on board
      Not sure about the rules for liquids and gels? (Hint: If they’re smaller than 100ml, they can go in your carry-on.) CATSA provides a handy search tool for determining what you can bring on a flight at
    4. Check your flight and paperwork
      Before you leave for the airport, be sure to visit your airline’s website for up-to-the-minute flight information. And make sure you have the necessary paperwork for air travel.
    5. Ask for help
      Nanaimo Airport’s Customer Care team and volunteer Blue Navigators (in the bright blue vests) are on duty in the air terminal building to answer your questions.


Customer service team at Nanaimo Airport eases travel stress

By | Uncategorized

The friendly customer service team at Nanaimo Airport devotes each day to one goal: making the travel experience comfortable.

It’s a big job. Hundreds of thousands of passengers go through the airport gates every year. And that means thousands of requests for assistance, from parking and airport information to tourism suggestions to finding lost credit cards. This year has been especially busy, as the team works diligently to fulfill the airport’s commitment to customer service during expansion-related construction.

“Our goal is to provide a positive, stress-free experience for passengers and visitors in a safe, secure and friendly environment,” explains Customer Care Advisor Laurie Hawthornthwaite.

She oversees a team of three customer service representatives: Tiffany Braun, Char Blois and Mike Anderson. She also supervises 37 Blue Navigator Ambassadors, the blue-vested volunteers who have provided almost 25,000 hours of service since June 2012.

The team is onsite 4:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. seven days a week. It’s rewarding work, they say. “I love when I can help take some of the stress out of travel,” says Braun.

And team members have many happy stories to share.

“My favourite time,” recalls Blue Navigators volunteer Tricia Barnes, “was when I realized that a lady with a fair amount of luggage was chatting amiably with a few folks and had not realized that her plane was within minutes of taking off! I rushed over and assisted her. She was escorted very quickly through Security and on to her plane on route to Europe.”

Passenger feedback attests to the friendly service people receive at Nanaimo Airport.

“Just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed visiting with the Blue Navigators volunteer,” one airport user wrote. “He made us feel welcome and visited like he was an old friend. My daughter was particularly taken with his incredible sense of humour. Thanks for all you do to make vacations special — even the airport experience.”

Expanded airport terminal taking shape, right on schedule

By | Airport Improvements

The future at Nanaimo Airport is becoming clearer by the day, thanks to progress on a $15-million Air Terminal Building expansion.

Construction activity that began this spring is already transforming the site. With foundation work completed, structural steel will now be erected. By Christmas, airport users will be able to see the outlines of the expansion, which will enlarge the security area for faster baggage screening and double the number of seats in the departure lounge for comfort and convenience.

“We’re very happy to be on schedule,” says Nanaimo Airport CEO Mike Hooper. “This is one of the largest construction projects in the region and despite normal logistical challenges it is going quite smoothly.”

He credits months of planning and careful project management for minimizing the impact of the expansion on airport operations. “We’ve made customer service a priority,” Hooper says. “We’re doing everything we can to ensure the airport experience meets expectations, and we appreciate the support and patience we’ve received from our customers.”

Once the steel work is done, crews will focus on exterior work for the building: cladding, glass and roofing. Completion is anticipated by January 2020. The expanded terminal will have approximately 14,000 more sq. ft. It’s currently 23,680 sq. ft.

The federal and provincial governments each invested $2.48 million in the project from the New Building Canada Fund – Small Communities Fund Program. The B.C. Airport Assistance Program invested $150,000 and Nanaimo Airport Commission covers the remainder

“This is another example of how Nanaimo Airport helps drive the Central Island economy,” Hooper says. “We’re bringing millions of dollars into the region and creating jobs that support local families.”

Island-based project manager Durwest Construction Management oversees many local trades contractors and suppliers. Nanaimo’s Checkwitch Poiron Architects, for example, is on the design team. And local firms McCallan Construction Survey, Graf Excavating, Island Overhead Doors, Flynn Canada, Archie Johnstone Plumbing, Houle Electric, Holdfast Metalworks, and Vescon Construction have all been contracted.

By 2021 the airport is forecast to generate $358 million in annual economic impact for the region and support more than 2,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Airport shares ideas for its land with neighbours

By | Airport Improvements, Community

Nanaimo Airport is interested in being a good neighbour and in the views of the people who live around its property.

That’s why the airport has for the last year shared information and consulted with neighbouring communities about developing its vacant land. Three public information sessions last month provided yet another opportunity for residents to be heard.

The information sessions were held in Nanaimo, Cedar and Ladysmith. They focused on options for unlocking the potential of the airport’s unoccupied land, which will enhance the central Vancouver Island economy with new jobs and investments.

“We were seeking input into some Draft designs,” says Mike Hooper, the airport’s CEO and president. “We received some excellent feedback, which we appreciate.”

The development scenarios were shaped earlier this year by a major two-day planning forum involving a cross-section of airport stakeholders. Attendees included representatives from local and regional governments, First Nations, the business community, the project architect, and the Nanaimo Airport Commission Board of Directors. They brainstormed possibilities that could benefit the region while meeting the commission’s guiding principles as well as its rigorous development standards.

Commission decisions are governed by the following principles:

  • Opportunities for interested parties to provide input shall be provided.
  • Protection of environmentally sensitive resources will be a key consideration in determining land use.
  • The objectives of the consultation process will be clearly established.
  • The process shall allow for a meaningful level of involvement.
  • All positions and input shall be considered; not all input can and will be accommodated.
  • The integrity of broad public involvement must be paramount and not be superseded by any individual or interest group.
  • Technical information used in decision making shall be made available to the public.
  • Airport operations will be paramount and all uses shall either be airport related or complimentary.
  • A timeline for the process will be clearly communicated.

The Nanaimo Airport continues to request input through its “Building for the Future” page at

Snowbirds’ sky-high aerobatics come back to Nanaimo for charity

By | Community

The world-renowned Canadian Forces Snowbirds are on their way back to Nanaimo.

The 431 Squadron returns to the city for some high-flying aerobatics on Wednesday, Aug. 8. The free show starts at 5:30 p.m. above the city’s harbour in downtown Nanaimo.

The Snowbirds are ambassadors for the non-profit CH.I.L.D. Foundation, which helps children living with inflammatory bowel diseases. The aerial show here will help raise awareness and funds for the foundation.

Nanaimo Airport and Nanaimo Flying Club will host a special private session for the Snowbirds and local C.H.I.L.D. members. The kids and their families will meet the aces and take pictures with them. A similar meeting took place during the Snowbirds’ last visit to the city in 2016.

“It’s such a special moment for everyone,” says Nanaimo Airport CEO Mike Hooper. “I can’t wait to see the smiles when the kids and their families get to meet the pilots and see the planes up close.”

The foundation’s mandate is to find a cure for Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis and liver disorders. The illnesses cause excruciating pain, vomiting and chronic fatigue, among other symptoms. Children living with the disorders are often confined to their homes. As a result, they miss a lot of school and can’t participate in many activities such as playing sports.

“We’re proud to support the great work of the CH.I.L.D. Foundation,” says Hooper. “It helps to make a difference in the lives of Central Island families.”

In their 48th season, the Snowbirds travel North America to perform thrilling aerobatics and breathtaking fly-bys. The team’s 24 pilots make about 60 appearances every year.

During a performance, they fly at speeds ranging from 185 km/h to 590 km/h. In many of the formations the jets will be about 1.2 metres apart.

After the Nanaimo performance the Snowbirds will perform at the Abbotsford Air Show.

New non-stop Toronto flight increases travel options

By | Airport Improvements

Air Canada now offers non-stop flight from Nanaimo to Toronto.

Central Islanders have long wanted an easier way to travel to Toronto. And this month they’re getting it.

Thanks to a partnership with Nanaimo Airport, Air Canada Rouge launches a non-stop Nanaimo-to-Toronto flight on June 22. It will run four times a week. Flights leave Nanaimo at 12:15 p.m. on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Passengers will fly in a 136-seat Airbus A319. It will be the first scheduled jet service in Nanaimo Airport’s long history.

“Adding scheduled service like this reinforces our commitment to being the Central Island’s gateway to the world,” says airport CEO Mike Hooper.

The new flight gives residents easier access to Air Canada’s network of global flights from its Toronto hub. WestJet also offers connections through Nanaimo Airport. The two airlines can take Islanders to sun destinations like Hawaii and the Bahamas. Most national and international destinations can be reached with same-day travel.

The Toronto flight creates opportunities for business owners, investors and workers here. They can pursue new markets, customers and jobs. Easy connections to the Central Island also give the region’s tourism and education sectors an advantage.

“By creating new opportunities for convenient leisure and business travel, this service has significant potential for regional economic development,” says Hooper.

Nanaimo Airport’s ongoing investments in infrastructure helped pave the way for the arrival of large aircraft such as the Airbus A319. The airport broke ground in April on an expansion of the Terminal Building. This project is needed to handle record passenger volumes. It will also make the travelling experience even more comfortable.

The Toronto service continues throughout the prime summer travel season until October. Air Canada and WestJet also have scheduled additional summer flights on their routes to Vancouver and Calgary.


Airport AGM returns directors to oversee their legacy

By | Community

The latest Nanaimo Airport AGM ensured that the same people who envisioned the $15-million expansion project at Nanaimo Airport (that will serve as a legacy for future generations) will continue to steer it.

All nine appointed members of the Nanaimo Airport Commission Board of Directors were returned to their posts at the airport’s Annual General Meeting. Directors set the airport’s strategic direction. In a nutshell, they are people who live and work in our communities making decisions that benefit everyone who lives and works here. They also ensure that systems are in place to protect airport operations and finances.

Their long-term vision, laid out in a 20-year terminal master plan, led to the $15-million infrastructure investment. It will expand the airport’s capacity and stimulate regional economic development. The commission broke ground last month on the project, which will enlarge the Air Terminal Building by 60 percent

Directors bring a range of experience and skills to their work, and they are all active in their communities. Five are appointed the City of Nanaimo, Regional District of Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Town of Ladysmith and Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, with four other directors representing the community at large.

Lucie Gosselin (at large) returns as board chair. She’s a chartered accountant and certified management consultant. Vice-chair Wendy Clifford (at large) is a partner in a law firm. Secretary Al Tully (RDN) was an operational air traffic controller and manager. Mike Brown (at large) has practiced law for many years and grew up in an aviation background. Ray Gauthier (at large) oversees a First Nations economic development agency as its CEO. Colleen Johel  (CVRD) is the managing partner of a Duncan law firm.Mike Kandert (Nanaimo) has more than 30 years of international aviation experience. Alex Stuart (Ladysmith) has a background in technology, environmental management and local government. And David Witty (Chamber of Commerce) is a university provost and vice-president with a background in urban planning.

Nanaimo Airport Breaks Ground on Historic $15-Million Expansion

By | Airport Improvements

Nanaimo, B.C. (April 17, 2018) — The first shovel of dirt was turned over today on a $15-million project that will expand Nanaimo Airport’s (YCD) Air Terminal Building, creating business and investment opportunities at one of the country’s fastest growing airports.

Ground was broken on an infrastructure investment project that is a partnership between Nanaimo Airport Commission and the federal and provincial governments. Each government contributed $2.48 million. The investment will substantially enlarge the size of the terminal building, creating more comfort for passengers and enhancing efficiency and safety. The project is one of the largest in the airport’s history.

“We are 10 years ahead of passenger forecasts and this investment will help us expand to ensure we continue to deliver great service to our customers,” says Lucie Gosselin, Board Chair of the Nanaimo Airport. “The Nanaimo Airport Commission appreciates the support provided by the Government of Canada and the Provincial Government for public infrastructure projects, through the New Building Canada Fund – Small Communities Fund Program.”

“I am pleased to see construction getting under way on this airport expansion project here in Nanaimo. These important upgrades will meet travellers’ needs now and into the future while laying the groundwork for increased tourism and economic growth in this beautiful region,” says the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

“The Province of B.C.’s investment in the expansion of the Nanaimo Airport will help the facility meet current and future travel demand,” says Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena. “In helping fund this expansion, we are supporting the Nanaimo Airport Commission’s long-term vision for the airport, which is integral to the mid-Island economy.”

The investment in improvements to the Nanaimo Airport will help it keep pace with the growth of the mid-Island.

The expansion will add 14,000 square feet, increasing the terminal building’s size by nearly 60 per cent. More space in the security area will allow travellers and their baggage to move faster through the screening. Passengers will also enjoy the benefits of a much larger departure lounge, which will have about 320 seats – more than double the current number.

“As the Central Island’s gateway to the world, we know hundreds of thousands of people rely on us for safe, convenient and comfortable travel,” says Nanaimo Airport CEO and president Mike Hooper. “We have carefully planned this expansion to ensure we continue to provide exceptional customer experience during the construction period. By expanding we’ll be better able to meet the needs of our region today and for the next generations.”

Nanaimo Airport has set records for passenger volume for eight consecutive years. More than 390,000 people are expected to pass through its gates in 2018.

The infrastructure investment will inject millions of dollars into the regional economy, through job creation and the purchase of materials and services. Project manager Durwest Construction Management is an Island-based firm. The project team includes Nanaimo-based Checkwitch Poiron Architects.

The tender process for the project has finished and pre-construction work has begun on site. Expected completion date is 2020. Last year, the airport completed work on the runway apron and lighting to help prepare for the expansion.

“This project creates more opportunities for travellers, business owners and investors,” says Hooper. “It will help us as we continue to pursue more air service for central Vancouver Island. It provides more space, and potentially more customers, for new businesses to partner with us, and it will spur land and business development at the airport that attracts investors from around the world.”

In 2016 the Nanaimo Airport Commission Board of Directors approved a 20-year Master Development Plan for the air terminal building.

The expansion project fulfills three critical priorities for the Commission:

  • ·         Regional economic development
  • ·         Economic stimulus through infrastructure construction
  • ·         Meeting escalating demand for air service through the next decade

To be fiscally responsible, the commission will carry out other work in the terminal building development plan when passenger volumes demand and additional funding is available.