Thanks to expanding air service via the Nanaimo Airport, travelers out of the Harbour City are about two stops away from any major destination in the world. That was one of the key messages delivered during an aviation-themed luncheon organized by the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce March 11.
Held at the Vancouver Island Conference centre (VICC) the general membership and anniversary member event was sponsored by the Nanaimo Airport, who introduced the event’s keynote speaker, Eamonn Horan-Lunney with Air Canada. As a central component of Nanaimo’s transportation nexus, the Nanaimo Airport plays a central role in connecting the Central Vancouver Island area to the world.
“We had forecast that passenger traffic in and out of the airport by 2020 would hit 300,000 passengers,” explained airport manager Mike Hooper prior to introducing the Air Canada speaker. “But based on traffic at present we’re confident of hitting that goal this year, well in advance of our projected targets. Which demonstrates how increasingly important the airport is to the region.”
Horan-Lunney, the afternoon session’s key speaker is Air Canada’s Director of Government and Community Relations for Western Canada. “Air Canada is considered one of the top 20 airlines in the world, and is the only Four Star airline operating in North America. Each year Air Canada moves nearly 35 million passengers to destinations worldwide.”
He said that via Jazz, the Air Canada partner airline that services the Nanaimo Airport, travelers from the Mid-Island are only two stops away from any of the airline’s 191 global destinations. “Air Canada has 350 aircraft flying daily and moves 106,000 passengers on its 1,500 flights every 24 hours. In Nanaimo in 2014 we saw more than 100,000 outbound passengers leave the airport. Canada has one of the highest airport per capita ratios of any country in the world.” Statistics presented during the presentation showed that domestic destinations take up the lion’s share of the seats departing from the Nanaimo Airport.
One area of concern he pointed out were the high fees airlines have to pay to land at a Canadian airport, including the local one. “Canada pays some of the highest airport fees of any country in the world which has a direct impact on the profitability of an airline and on the prices charged for tickets.,” he said.
He suggested to the group of business owners that applying pressure on legislators might be one way to help reverse this trend which could ultimately negatively impact traffic out of any Canadian airport, including Nanaimo’s.