Airport remains vital to regional prosperity

2 November 2020

Central Vancouver Island has a vested interest in the rebound of air travel at the Nanaimo Airport (YCD). The airport plays a vital role in so many aspects of residents’ everyday life.

The airport is one of the key drivers of the regional economy. It created $486 million in direct and indirect economic output last year. Operations generated 2,750 direct and indirect jobs that support Central Island families. It significantly impacts the tourism, real estate, education and technology sectors. An economic impact study shows that constrained growth at the airport will limit prosperity throughout the region.

The airport is also the Central island’s gateway to the world. It connects residents to with friends, families, destinations, jobs and commercial markets outside of the region. Last year a record 491,499 leisure and business travellers passed through its gates. Nanaimo Airport ranked number one in passenger growth percentage over the last decade among similar or larger B.C. airports.

All the growth has been the result of careful planning by the not-for-profit Nanaimo Airport Commission. The airport is under federal jurisdiction but it receives no direct government funding. It pays its operating and capital expenditures from revenue it generates. The airport is not funded by property, sales or income taxes.

The COVID 19 pandemic presents the airport with the most challenging time in its existence. Nanaimo Airport has remained open throughout. It ensures the continued safe and essential movement of goods, services, aircraft, and people.

Passenger counts were down 95 per cent in April and May due to restrictions on non-essential air travel. Passenger counts have improved since then. But they were still down 70 per cent in August, creating an uncertain economic future.

YCD’s thorough health and safety measures protect passengers, staff and all other members of the airport campus. “Please know that when our customers are ready to travel we will provide a safety-first environment,” says Nanaimo Airport Commission President and CEO Dave Devana.

Continued community support for the airport is critical, he says. “Regional airports, including YCD, are not expected to fully recover until 2023/24. This will significantly affect the regional economy, especially the tourism/leisure sector.”