Front-line workers are “unsung heroes,” says Nanaimo Airport

By Community

Front-line workers at Nanaimo Airport and across Canada are unsung heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic, says airport CEO and President Mike Hooper.

Hooper also thanks first responders and other emergency personnel. Their work keeps Central Islanders, and all Canadians, healthy and safe.

“They are all doing excellent work. It benefits everyone, from providing us critical health care to ensuring we can buy food,” he says. “They’re providing the essential services we need. They’re keeping our communities running during these challenging times. On behalf of the Nanaimo Airport, I want to publicly acknowledge and thank them.”

“Their dedication is an inspiration,” he adds. “We owe them and their families our thanks for all they do on our behalf.”

Staff at Nanaimo Airport and our business partners ensure essential travel and shipping continues. Our team includes everyone from baggage handlers to customer service representatives. Maintenance crews and the Blue Navigator volunteers also make important contributions.

Business partners have a variety of front-line workers on duty. They staff the security area for baggage and customer screening. They keep airline flight counters open. They run the flight services centre that monitors air traffic. Other services include fuel and cargo.

Nanaimo Airport Commission has added precautions to reduce the COVID-19 risk. The steps help keep our workplace safe for employees, partners and contractors.

Our janitorial staff is disinfecting common use surfaces throughout the Air Terminal Building. This includes bathrooms, the departure lounge and luggage carts. We have also installed more hand sanitizer dispensers.

We have monitored the coronavirus outbreak since it was first reported in early January. “Safety has always been our priority throughout our operations,” says Hooper.

“Our front-line workers are doing a tremendous job. We’re very proud of the service they’ve provided as our business copes with the impact of the pandemic.”

Airport raises region’s profile with national audiences

By Community, Uncategorized

Nanaimo Airport (YCD) gives Central Vancouver Island a two-way connection with the rest of the world.

The region’s global gateway allows residents to travel to thousands of destinations. And it often brings national attention to the Island. The spotlight raises our profile and benefits tourism, business, education and other sectors.

This summer, for example, the airport played a supporting role on an episode of The Amazing Race Canada. It’s the country’s most-watched summer TV series. Viewers watched contestants race through a series of challenges in the Central Island before heading to the airport.

YCD served as the backdrop for one of the most intense moments of the show’s season. The teams got into a heated discussion about their gamesmanship. When things cooled off, the racers boarded a plane to head to their next adventure, in Saskatoon. A graphic then showed the national audience how Nanaimo Airport connects the Island to the rest of the country.

The airport also played a role in another recent event that focused media attention on Nanaimo. The Canadian Forces Snowbirds 431 Air Demonstration Squadron performed high above the city’s downtown harbour. The pilots enthralled thousands of local residents as well as an online audience.

The famed pilots have made several appearances here. Nanaimo Airport provides an opportunity for them to meet with their fans. Last year, the Snowbirds came to Nanaimo Airport as Ambassadors of the C.H.I.L.D Foundation. The charity supports children with liver diseases. The aces spent time with C.H.I.L.D kids and gave them tours of their jets on the airport taxiway.

YCD has played a role in other high-profile events too. They all showcased Central Vancouver Island on the national and international stages.

In 2018, the BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley used the airport as its main gathering point. Hundreds of athletes flew in from around the province. And big-name performers have landed at YCD on their way to the stage at SunFest, Laketown Shakedown and other major Island music festivals.

Communication with our neighbours guides Nanaimo Airport

By Community

Getting information about Nanaimo Airport (YCD), and offering your feedback, has never been easier.

The airport values communication with the communities and people it serves. Its part of our commitment to being a good corporate citizen and neighbour. That communication, in fact, is one of YCD’s guiding principles. And building partnerships and encouraging contributions is one of our strategic goals.

Staying in touch, and welcoming input, is part of the airport’s role as a regional economic driver and helps support its long-range planning.

Sharing information is done in many ways. puts everything from flight status to expansion updates just an online click away. The website also hosts an archive of the Airport blog. We are happy to respond to your inquiries and feedback through the Contact Us page. You can follow YCD on social media through its official Facebook account as well as @FlyYCD on Twitter. You are welcome to share your images and video on our Instagram page @FlyYCD. There’s also a monthly column in Take 5.

Public interaction is emphasized at the many presentations around the Central Island made by airport representatives.

In June, for example, the airport sponsored a Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce luncheon. A full house heard from Air Canada Senior Vice-President Ferio Pugliese, who offered some promising insights for regional travellers. Pugliese called Nanaimo the “perfect” market for the airline’s new Airbus A220 when it goes into service. The audience also heard from Dave Witty, Vice Chair of the Nanaimo Airport Commission.

Throughout the year, airport officials make presentations to local governments in Nanaimo, the Regional District of Nanaimo, Ladysmith and the Cowichan Valley Regional District. YCD also partners with a variety of stakeholders, including local Chambers of Commerce, First Nations communities and Vancouver Island University.

Community input helps shape decisions at the airport, which is the second busiest on Vancouver Island. Last year, for example, YCD brought together stakeholders for a major charette that helped chart proposed land development. The results of the charette, and the airport’s subsequent land development plan, were then shared at public information sessions around the region.

Airport looks to create jobs, diversify with land development

By Community

Nanaimo Airport aims to create new jobs and even more economic benefit for the region by developing some of its vacant land.

The airport has 50 hectares of prime land available. Marketing it to attract businesses and investors helps fulfill the airport’s role as a key economic partner for Vancouver Island. Experts estimate airport operations last year generated $486 million in economic direct and indirect activity.

Developing the land, which is under federal jurisdiction, will also help diversify the airport’s revenue base. By doing that, the airport remains financially feasible for future generations. It also provides services to the fast-growing residential population in our neighbourhood.

All development will be carefully planned. Last year, Nanaimo Airport Commission hosted a land design charrette and then followed it up with a number of public consultations. Valuable input was received from local and regional government representatives, First Nations, and community members.

The Commission is now working on a real estate development plan that will serve as a guide and allow the airport to reach its full potential. The airport already has created a land use plan, calling for development in phases.

The Commission follows several land use planning principles. One of them gives key consideration to environmentally sensitive resources in all decisions. Another provides opportunities for the public, stakeholders and other interested parties to provide input.

The principles further require the Commission to ensure the integrity of broad public involvement is paramount to the process and must not be superseded by any individual or interest group.

Airport operations are also paramount under the planning principles. All land uses shall either be airport-related or complimentary. Initially the commission is seeking to attract aviation-based businesses.

Nanaimo Airport offers businesses the opportunity to capitalize on record passenger volume at a well-serviced, mid-sized airport with competitive development costs. Work on a multi-million-dollar Air Terminal Building expansion wraps up this fall.

For more information, visit

Airport a magnet for new trade zone jobs, businesses

By Community, Economic Impact

Nanaimo Airport plays a key role in the new employment, business and investment opportunities created by Vancouver Island’s designation as a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ).

The zone makes it easier for local businesses to expand international trade. It also makes it easier for the region to attract foreign investment. As a premier transportation and logistics hub, the airport will be one of the zone’s major assets.

The designation was announced by federal government. It streamlines processes for companies in the region that want to import or export products and conduct trade with foreign markets. And it gives them easier access to government programs that defer taxes and duty.

“We’re in a great position to help them capitalize,” says Nanaimo Airport CEO Mike Hooper. “Our land and infrastructure is ready to go.”

The airport has about 51 acres of vacant land with excellent development potential. The different sizes of lots could accommodate aviation-related goods and services. As well, small warehouses and importers and exporters could locate there to gain the most benefit from the zone.

“A business importing products could land them on our runway, then sell them here and enjoy a tax break. And that’s just one scenario,” says Hooper.

The FTZ is only the 11th of its kind in Canada. It’s overseen by the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance. VIEA worked with Nanaimo Airport and other partners to secure the designation.

“Nanaimo Airport plays an important role in driving the regional economy,” Hooper says. “Being in a Foreign Trade Zone will enhance that role, and deliver even more benefit to the communities we serve.”

The airport’s economic impact touches all corners of the region. Nanaimo Airport currently generates $358 million and more than 2,000 jobs that support Central Island families. And that’s before factoring in the economic injection resulting from being in an FTZ.

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.

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.

Blue Navigators make travel friendly, comfortable at Nanaimo Airport

By Community

Cassidy resident Jim Cirka has spent roughly 56 days at Nanaimo Airport over the last five years.
He’s not a frequent flyer, though. He’s a frequent volunteer, with the Blue Navigators ambassadors at the airport terminal. They all make travel easier for hundreds of thousands of passengers each year.
Jim was one of the original Blue Navigators when the volunteer team formed in 2012. Altogether, the ambassadors have contributed 20,000 hours — including 1,350 hours from Jim alone. That adds up to almost two months of his time.
Today he’s one of 37 volunteers, including eight from the Ladysmith region. The ambassadors are easy to spot in the terminal thanks to their distinctive blue vests.
And they all provide invaluable customer service, creating a comfortable and friendly atmosphere for travellers.
The best part of the work? “Meeting people and helping them,” says Jim, a retiree. “It can be hectic sometimes so we help people by answering their questions and offering assistance.”
Jim puts himself in shoes of passengers when he’s on duty. When departing, they may not be familiar with the security screening procedures or they may be stressed by travel. Arrivals may not know the area. “We’ve all been there,” he says. He tries to provide the help he’d want if he were in similar situations.
He finds volunteering at the airport very rewarding and interesting. “You meet so many different people,” he says.
He recommends the Blue Navigators program to anyone looking for a satisfying volunteer position. Volunteers can select their preferred day and four-hour shift with a commitment of at least one shift per week. Training is provided.
Ideally, volunteers will have customer service experience. A friendly and outgoing personality, and strong listening skills, are also helpful.
For more information, contact Laurie Hawthornthwaite at the Nanaimo Airport at 250-924-2157 ext. 261 or

With airport support, aviation groups help our region

By Community

Nanaimo Airport has for decades been the center of Central Vancouver Island aviation. And by supporting the aviators of today and tomorrow, it will continue to lead the sector well into the future.

The airport is home to commercial airlines, private pilots and aviation buffs in the Nanaimo Flying Club, and the Mid-Island Air Search and Rescue volunteers. It also works with the next generation of aviators with area air cadet squadron.

The airport and the flying club were both born in 1942. Today the club has 130 members and serves as the meeting place for members, pilots and area aircraft owners. It hosts monthly fly-ins, drawing planes from around B.C. And it helps pilots keep up on their training. Members don’t have to own a plane; they can use a club-owned Cessna 172.

The flying club also supports the community. It offers an annual scholarship, for example. And it works with the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association’s COPA for Kids Aviation Program. Members take youths aged 8 to 17 on free demonstration flights to provide a motivational aviation experience.

Youth with an interest in flying also benefit from Nanaimo Airport’s support for 205 Collishaw Nanaimo air cadets. The airport host’s the squadron’s annual review as well as provided airspace for some of the island’s cadet glider training.

The cadets — aged 12 to 18 — take part in a variety of activities that helps them grow into the leaders of tomorrow.  They can also earn credits towards their secondary school graduation.

The airport, reflecting its focus on safety, is also home base for Mid Island Air Search and Rescue. The not-for-profit organization uses light aircraft and ground vehicles to serve the public. Volunteers help locate aircraft and missing hikers, boaters and back-country travelers.

Nanaimo Airport’s support for each of the organizations reflects its commitment to serving the communities in its region.