Airport planning for $29M investment to help drive economic recovery

1 February 2021

Nanaimo Airport Commission is taking a leadership position to help fuel the Central Island’s economic recovery with a $28.8-million infrastructure capital plan.

The investment over the next five years will enhance Nanaimo Airport’s infrastructure. It will provide additional route development options including Toronto, Edmonton, Kelowna and seasonal sun destinations.

“We’re pro-actively embracing our leadership role as a key economic driver for the region,” says Dave Devana, President and CEO. “Our investments will create jobs and opportunities with economic spin-offs that touch all corners of the region we serve. Our new infrastructure capital plan will help Nanaimo Airport and our region recover from the impact of the pandemic while ensuring the airport continues to meet the needs of leisure and business travellers for the next generation.

“We can safely reconnect travellers to the world when they’re ready to fly again. We’re looking to create even more options for our customers.”

Nanaimo Airport Commission adopted its 2021-2025 Financial Plan in November. The budget is based on a slow pandemic recovery with passenger traffic returning to 2019 levels by 2024.

“It’s important to note that no government taxes are used to finance our ongoing operations,” Devana adds. Nanaimo Airport Commission is a non-profit, self sufficient corporation. It generates revenue through passenger fees, parking fees and leases. All net income is reinvested in infrastructure improvements to enhance the airport. Government grants have helped fund capital projects, such as the new Airport Terminal Building, that enhance economic development opportunities in Central Vancouver Island.

The pandemic presented the airport with the most difficult financial challenges in its history. An estimated 181,072 passengers travelled through its gates in 2020. That’s down an estimated 63% from 2019. As a result, the airport forecasts a $1.4 million loss in 2020. It had anticipated a $2.5 million surplus in 2020.

“Our region depends on us for the transportation of people and critical supplies,” Devana notes. “Our Board of the Commission did a tremendous job of navigating extremely difficult circumstances to ensure we’ve been there for our communities.”