Gaining Altitude

Fresh off five months of record-breaking passenger numbers, the Nanaimo Airport (YCD) is issuing a passenger challenge for 2012. The “Gaining Altitude – A Million and Beyond” campaign is the next step in the airport’s managed growth strategy that saw completion of a two-phase expansion plan between 2006 and 2011. During that time 913,000 passengers travelled through YCD’s terminals and the airport is on target to reach its goal of one million passengers in summer 2012, opening up the potential for new aircraft landings, flight schedules, routes and destinations.     

Nanaimo Airport President & CEO Mike Hooper, who has overseen YCD’s expansion and rapid growth since 2006, believes that everyone in the community has a role to play in achieving this challenge.

“We know that our passengers are looking to the future and for us to attract new aircraft carriers and with them new routes and destinations.  In 2012 we are issuing a challenge 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.   The reality is, the more passengers we attract, the more attractive we become as an airport to new carriers.”

Along with a larger terminal, more parking and faster passenger screening and baggage handling, Nanaimo Airport’s 2011 completion of the airport expansion plan also extended its runways to accommodate commercial jet landings, and added high intensity runway lights, lead-in lights and a new instrument landing system (ILS) to significantly improve all-weather reliability.

With a new 2,400-foot taxi-way and the 1,600-foot runway extension, the airport is able to handle Q400 and jet landings such as the 737-700 series and the A319, along with the Dash 8-300 and Dash 8-100 aircraft that currently land at YCD.

According to Hooper, “We now have the potential to handle maximum distance direct routes using jet aircraft non-stop to Hawaii, Mexico, Alaska and Toronto. Securing the support of regional residents through our ‘Gaining Altitude – A Million and Beyond’ campaign is one step in a 20-year planning horizon where we envision ourselves following similar growth patterns to other regional airports, like Kelowna International Airport, which services a similar population base.”

Hooper points out, “A thriving airport will not only give our residents more travel options, but will have significant impact on the whole region.”   Studies show that airports are strong contributors to a community’s growth. In 2006, YCD supported (directly and indirectly) an estimated 584 person years of employment in the region and, through its activities, generated approximately $41 million to the provincial economy in total gross revenues.

More recently, studies show the airport’s yearly contribution to the regional economy is expected to increase to $78.7 million in 2016 and $121 million by 2026.