EDITORIAL: WestJet plans are promising

NANAIMO – Second air carrier at airport could pay big dividends.

Years of hard work and perseverance has paid off for the Nanaimo Airport Commission with the news WestJet will be offering daily flights to Calgary beginning in June.

From a longer runway and enlarged terminal, to high intensity lighting and an instrument landing system, the investment into Nanaimo Airport to attract a second air carrier to work alongside Air Canada has been a dream long in the making.

Taking the “If you build it, they will come” approach, the airport commission – and its partners in the city and regional district – can see some light at the end of the tunnel.

The opportunity has presented itself, and now the plan is to make those millions of invested dollars pay off for the central Island.

The good news is WestJet is bullish on introducing its services to smaller communities in Western Canada and will be working to introduce Albertans to Nanaimo.

It’s important not to underestimate just how much money is in Alberta, and how people there just might find a south coast B.C. lifestyle appealing in their retirement years.

Of course, the same could work in reverse with a regional commuter flight making it that much easier for Nanaimo workers to leave the province in search of the golden goose in the Alberta oil sands – taking with them valuable tax dollars and disposable income that is needed here.

But, if the WestJet service opens up Nanaimo anything like it did the Comox Valley, businesses and residents could reap the positive results for years.

The secret in making it all work is to use it – prove to WestJet its investment in Nanaimo is a worthwhile endeavour that will pay off for all involved.