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Nanaimo Airport sees federal investment

Lisa Raitt, federal transport minister, poses with maintenance vehicles at Nanaimo Airport Tuesday.  - CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin
Lisa Raitt, federal transport minister, poses with maintenance vehicles at Nanaimo Airport Tuesday.
— image credit: CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo Airport will upgrade its firefighting capabilities and make a clean sweep of its runways thanks to a cash injection from Transport Canada’s Capital Assistance Program.

Lisa Raitt, federal transport minister, announced $1 million in funding to help purchase a new runway sweeper and an aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle.

The capital assistance program ensures airports have adequate maintenance and emergency-response capability as air transport grows across the country, Raitt said, during the announcement at Nanaimo Airport on Tuesday.

“In general in Canada we have a very safe air transportation system and we’ve seen a great increase, much like the increase we’ve seen with passengers here in Nanaimo in the past number of years,” Raitt said. “We’ve increased by 40 per cent the passenger throughputs in Canada between 2002 and 2011, but at the same time the number of aviation accidents have actually decreased by 25 per cent and, indeed, in 2011 the total number of accidents in Canada declined to the lowest recorded figure in modern aviation history.”

Nanaimo Airport is experiencing rapid growth in passenger numbers as more people catch regional flights aboard several air carriers. Passenger counts for 2014 are up 35 per cent over 2013 figures.

The new sweeper will improve how quickly and efficiently the airport can clear snow and slush from runways and taxiways and, should an accident occur, the upgraded crash truck will improve response times and capability to deal with any size aircraft that can be landed at YCD.

Monday, WestJet, which started operating flights to Calgary in 2013, announced it will add a second daily scheduled flight to Calgary.

Airport president and CEO Mike Hooper said the added WestJet flight to Calgary will further meet the airport’s goal of serving Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest and allow passengers to connect with flights from Calgary to the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean.

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