Hundreds of Central Vancouver Island residents braved the weather to take part in the inaugural WestJet flight “Fun in the Sun” event, on Monday June, 24. Although Mother Nature did not cooperate, it certainly didn’t dampen the festive mood. The lawn at the Nanaimo Airport was turned into a mini beach party, featuring a huge inflatable racing slide, BBQ and of course a sand castle building area. The WestJet Encore team was also on site giving away flight discounts.
Ferio Pugliese, President of WestJet Encore, arrived on the inaugural in-bond flight from Calgary. He took part in the official ribbon cutting at the WestJet gate along with Mike Hooper, Nanaimo Airport CEO, and Nanaimo Airport Commission’s Board Chair, Russ Burke, in front of approximately 100 outgoing passengers.
Although there was much excitement about the inaugural flight, the day was bitter sweet, with the recent flooding in Calgary and area. Although the flight was not affected, the impact of the flooding to residents was on everyone’s mind. “We understand the challenges the residents of Southern Alberta are currently experiencing. We have made a donation, in partnership with Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, to the flood relief efforts in the region,” explains Hooper.
Now that the celebration is over, WestJet Encore is offering daily non-stop service to Calgary on their new Q-400 aircraft. This is in addition to the eight direct flights Air Canada Express has to Vancouver daily, plus Island Express Air services to Abbotsford, Victoria and Vancouver South Terminal.
Hooper says, “Developing service and adding routes is key to Nanaimo Airport’s continued growth to ensure safe, reliable transportation for Central Vancouver Island residents.”
The Q400 is a 78 seat turbo prop aircraft, which is 15 decibels quieter than current in-production jets of similar size and sets a new environmental standard, using 30%-40% less fuel than older jets, so reduces carbon emissions.