In Aug. the Nanaimo Airport shattered their previous record for the highest number of passengers traveling through their terminal. VIU is the largest client of the Nanaimo Airport having sent 500 passengers in the month of Aug. alone.

“The growth in passengers at the Nanaimo airport has been record breaking,” Nanaimo Airport President and CEO Mike Hooper says.

Hooper credits the growth to the improved safety measures, which include the installation of an instrument landing system or ILS in 2010. “We’ve reached that record breaking level by ensuring we fix the reliability. The instrument landing system that we put in place three years ago took us from 74 percent reliability for weather in the winter months to over 99 percent reliability for weather in all of 2011,” Hooper says.

“Island residents are now comfortable flying in the winter months because we’ve become reliable on our routes to YVR. From a weather perspective, we can now ensure that 99 percent of the time they’ll be able to make their connections, which is just as good as any other airport,” Hooper adds.

The ILS provides precision guidance for aircraft approaching the runway. It is ideal for conditions such as foggy weather. “We used to be two and a quarter miles away, 652 feet in the air at that point the pilot had to see the airport environment. With the ILS we came down to one mile away 338 feet off the ground so you’re below that cloud level and you have to see the runway environment. We also added 14 thousand feet of lead-in lights. The ILS allows the aircraft to get closer to the runway and the high intensity lead in lights spark the runway environment,” Hooper says.

Hooper says that the prime location of the Nanaimo Airport has also played a crucial part in its growth over the years. He is proud of the tremendous success of the airport for meeting the needs of its community.

“We’re in the middle of the largest population north of Victoria and the regional districts here are growing faster than most other regional districts in the province. We have a huge increase in population around the Nanaimo airport and we have clients such as VIU who put 500 students through here in the month of Aug. alone. We have a growing population, clients such as VIU using us more, and we have a weather reliable airport.”

The Nanaimo Airport has established an ambassadors program that allows for the Nanaimo Airport volunteer team to help students go through the airport. “It’s an excellent thing for VIU students…We’re doing that to encourage additional passengers to travel through and that helps not only the experience today but it establishes a better market for additional routes to come through in the future. The plan is to make the experience going through the airport an excellent experience for all passengers and as we do that we’ll increase the number of passengers and that will raise the attention of numerous air carriers to come in and deliver additional services to western Canada and the Pacific North West.

“As we move more passengers through the Nanaimo airport, additional carriers and even current carriers will look at additional routes because the number of folks traveling will encourage additional opportunities for each air carrier.”

Hooper adds that the Nanaimo airport is currently working towards additional flights to Calgary and Seattle.

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