Nanaimo Airport (YCD) handled 435,349 passengers in 2018, surpassing Comox Airport (YQQ) to become Vancouver Island’s second busiest airport based on passenger numbers. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

Nanaimo Airport soars past Comox to become second-busiest airport on the Island

Air Canada Rouge to resume seasonal non-stop service between Nanaimo and Toronto this summer

Passenger numbers at the Nanaimo Airport have soared to new heights.

Nanaimo Airport (YCD) handled 435,349 passengers in 2018, surpassing Comox Airport (YQQ) to become Vancouver Island’s second busiest airport based on passenger numbers. YQQ handled just under 420,000 passengers last year, according to Comox airport staff, while Victoria International Airport (YYJ) remains the Island’s busiest airport, handling 2.05 million passengers in 2018.

Mike Hooper, YCD’s president and chief executive officer, said it is the first time, to his knowledge, that Nanaimo has exceeded Comox in passenger numbers in single year.

“It’s fabulous,” he said. “Our team works very hard.”

Nanaimo’s 2018 passenger figures represent a 22 per cent increase from the previous year and a nearly 40 per cent increase over four years. Hooper said YCD is expecting to handle more than 470,000 passengers this year.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to get close to touching 500,000,” he said.

One reason for optimism is because Air Canada Rouge will not only operate seasonal non-stop service from Nanaimo to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport again this summer, but the airline has decided to increase frequency on the route, an Air Canada spokesperson confirmed with the News Bulletin.

The airline will operate five weekly flights to Toronto between Jun. 21 and Sept. 1. It will then switch to four weekly flights beginning Sept. 2. Seasonal service will end Oct. 7. The route will once again be served using a 136-seat Airbus A319.

Hooper said he expected the Toronto route to return this year, explaining it was heavily used last summer.

“Our load factors were greater than 85 per cent in the summer time,” he said. “I was on one trip to Toronto and it was 100 per cent full.”

RELATED: Air Canada announces non-stop seasonal service from Nanaimo to Toronto

RELATED: Air Canada confident Nanaimo-Toronto non-stop route will be successful

RELATED: First regularly scheduled jet airplane service from Nanaimo takes off

RELATED: Construction set to begin on Nanaimo airport terminal expansion

With non-stop flights to Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, Hooper said the airport isn’t done trying to attract more flights. He said there is strong demand for service to Edmonton – which was cancelled by WestJet in 2016 – Kelowna, Las Vegas and Mexico, but only so much the airport can do to add new routes.

“We can reach out to the air carriers and suggest where they should go but in the end it is really up to them,” Hooper said. “Airports are all about setting the table with the right runway, instrument landing system and they will come to our table, our airport, when there is enough people there.”

YCD doesn’t have the ability to handle wide-body aircraft and with Vancouver International Airport (YVR) nearby, Hooper doesn’t believe large jets are the best fit for Nanaimo.

“We couldn’t take a Boeing 777 and I don’t see us ever wanting to do that,” he said. “In my mind, I don’t see why because we are so close to Vancouver and some larger airports.”

Hooper said YCD is better off serving destinations in North America, the Caribbean, Mexico and Hawaii.

In an effort to keep pace with growing demand and attract more flights, YCD recently broke ground on a $15-million expansion project that will increase the terminal’s floor space by 60 per cent when construction is completed in 2020.

Hooper said it is all part of a 20-year master plan that encourages the development of a hotel, restaurant and other commercial and aviation related services on airport land. He said there is enough demand for those types of services, adding that he expects a significant development to occur over the next two years.

“On ground side, I think we will see something substantial within the next 24 months,” he said without providing specific details. “We’re still working towards it. We’ve had a whole bunch of requests. It’s not the businesses that we have to attract, they already want to come. We just need to make sure we meet the expectations of our surrounding communities.”

Made with OnlineChartTool.Com







nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram

 

Just Posted

North Island Eagles select head coaches for upcoming season

“We appreciate the commitment each of you make to the club and to your teams”

Ribbon cutting ceremony at Hardy Bay Senior Citizens’ new greenhouse

“if it wasn’t for the volunteers this project wouldn’t have happened”

Port Hardy Pride Day will arrive in September

Port Hardy will be celebrating Pride Day on Sept. 14 at Carrot Park.

Woss man attacked by black bear on remote logging road

“we are just monitoring the situation now”

Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom wants to see previous cuts to public libraries reversed

The Ministry of Education has, over 10 years, reduced provincial library funding by $6 million.

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman sentenced to life in prison

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Chinook retention begins on North Island, but amid new size limit

DFO calls measures ‘difficult but necessary’ following rockslide on Fraser River

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Injured humpback returns to waters near Comox a year later

Photographer spotted Ocular near Comox again and noticed the whale has been healing

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

Most Read