Nanaimo Airport officially opens a $14.2-million expansion of its Air Terminal Building on Friday, February 28, providing passengers more room and comfort to enhance their travel experience.
The striking, modern building increases the terminal size by almost 60 percent. Travellers can move faster and more efficiently through the airport. The departure lounge now has comfortable seating for more than 300 people, up from 140 – with the ability to expand to a total of 550 passengers. There is a new dedicated security area, with a future capacity to screen 1,000 people per hour, up from the past 100 per hour.
And the additional space reduces congestion even at busy times.
The expansion also provides passengers with the convenience of WiFi and device charging stations.
“We’ve focused on making our guest services even better, says airport CEO and president Mike Hooper. “Walking into the new wing immediately puts your mind at ease. It’s a very comfortable and relaxing atmosphere.”
Floor-to-ceiling glass walls bathe the departure lounge in natural light. Passengers will look out over the runway and to the trees and mountains beyond as they prepare to board flights.
“The whole idea is to have a place of comfort for people as they travel,” says Dave Witty, chair of the Nanaimo Airport Commission’s building committee.
The expansion was one of the largest projects in the airport’s history. “It reflects our past and speaks to confidence in our future,” says Wendy Clifford, chair of Nanaimo Airport Commission.
The expansion architecture was inspired by the region’s landscape, geology, mining and forest industries. Aeronautical structures from the period of local flying ace Raymond Collishaw also influenced the design. The airport’s original terminal was named after Collishaw, a World War I pilot and hero.
The $14.2 million investment was supported by the Building Canada Fund Small Communities program. Infrastructure Canada and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure each invested $2.5 million, and Nanaimo Airport Commission invested $9.2 million.
The sod-turning was held in April 2018, and the project was completed in January 2020, 2 months ahead of schedule, and $100K under budget.
“We’ve used a modular, flexible design that meets the needs of our region today and can grow with us for tomorrow,” explains Hooper. “By using a modular design, we can build the specific components as needed to accommodate future expansions.”
The airport has developed a detailed 20-year plan that envisions tripling the existing terminal size by 2035. This will include a customs facility to service sun destinations in the coming years.
The expansion opens amid record growth at Nanaimo Airport. Last year, 490,000 passengers passed through its gates, setting a record for the 11th consecutive year.
Nanaimo Airport is the Island’s gateway to the world, offering flights to Vancouver and Calgary, as well as seasonal non-stop service to Toronto that resumes this June.