Nanaimo Airport made its first million, so to speak, when it hosted a celebration for the one-millionth passenger to pass through its terminal Tuesday.
Jack Rumney was catching an outgoing Air Canada flight to Fort McMurray, Alta., when he was named the airport’s one-millionth passenger.
Mike Hooper, Nanaimo Airport president and CEO, and Norm Schmidt, senior lead agent for Air Canada Express, presented Rumney with a leather travel bag stuffed with $1 million in fake bills, a bottle of champagne and a chance to win $1 Million in the airport’s Thanks a Million contest.
“I’m a pipefitter – 10 days in, four days out – so I use the airport a lot,” Rumney said.
Rumney quipped he would try and use the fake cash in the airport and said he felt his chances of winning the real $1 million had improved greatly.
“Better than yesterday,” he said. “I feel good. I feel lucky.”
Rumney’s name was drawn randomly from a list of passengers aboard one Air Canada outgoing flight and one Air Canada incoming flight. Each passenger on the flights received a Millionth Passenger Gift Pack that included a travel journal, a travel set of liquids containers and a reusable storage pouch for ear buds.
The prize giveaways are part of the airport’s Gaining Altitude – A Million and Beyond Campaign, part of the airport’s growth strategy that included a runway expansion, aircraft guidance system and lighting upgrades and a remodelled and expanded terminal between 2006 and 2011 when 913,000 passengers passed through the airport.
Celebrations will continue through the week with airport volunteer ambassadors serving refreshments and laminating luggage tags in the terminal.
“Really what the millionth passenger program is about is saying thank you to the community for supporting the Nanaimo Airport,” Hooper said. “We’ve had record years in the last two years and we’re having another record year coming out of 2012. We’ve gone from 70 per cent reliability to over 99 per cent reliability for all of 2011, so we’re starting to better service the community and the community in return is starting to use Nanaimo Airport more and more for their transportation decisions.”