Nanaimo Airport sees record month

Nanaimo Airport sees record summer passenger numbers.

August was a record month for Nanaimo Airport.

About 19,000 people passed through the terminal, chalking up a 9.4-per cent rise over statistics for August 2010.

“The month of August is a record month for us,” said Mike Hooper, Nanaimo Airport president and CEO. “We’ve never had so many passengers go through and this year we’re expecting a new record for the year.”

September saw 15,000 passengers pass through the terminal for an eight-per cent increase above September 2010.

Hooper credits improved passenger services in the expanded terminal, which include larger waiting rooms and new passenger screening and baggage handling systems.

Lower air carrier costs and new instrument landing and lighting systems, installed to raise the airport’s weather reliability, are also paying off.

“As people realize we’ve remedied our weather reliability issues, they’re starting to come here,” Hooper said. “Air Canada is doing a great job of reducing some of their costs and this year to date for weather, we’re 99 per cent reliable from Jan. 1 to now.”

The airport is also working to attract more air carriers that can provide direct flights to cities across western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

“We’re anticipating additional routes within the next six to 12 months,” Hooper said.

Hopper would not elaborate on what carriers the airport is in negotiations with, possible schedules or where additional flights would be destined.

New interior flights will be scheduled inside the terminal when Nanaimo Airport hosts the Great Paper Airplane Contest, Nov. 20.

The fundraiser supporting juvenile diabetes research and programs lets participants fly paper planes at targets to win entries into prize draws, including a chance to win a trip with Air Canada to Los Cabos, Mexico.

The fundraiser is part of the airport’s first Sizzling Sun Travel Show featuring information booths from travel agencies and air carriers, plus travel presentations where visitors can learn about travel destinations in Cuba and Mexico.