The Nanaimo Airport Commission on December 21 introduced a $28.8 million infrastructure capital plan it is undertaking to help fuel the Central Island’s economic recovery. The commission states this investment over the next five years will enhance Nanaimo Airport’s (YCD) infrastructure to provide additional route development options, including Toronto, Edmonton, Kelowna and seasonal sun destinations.

“We’re proactively embracing our leadership role as a key economic driver for the region,” said Dave Devana, President and CEO, Nanaimo Airport. “Our investments will create jobs and opportunities with multiple 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.”

The Nanaimo Airport Commission adopted the 2021-2025 Financial Plan last month, focusing on a budget that is based on a slow pandemic recovery with passenger traffic returning to 2019 levels by 2024. The commission, which operates as a non-profit corporation, notes no tax dollars are being used to fund airport operations. It generates revenue through passenger fees, parking fees and leases, with all net income reinvested in infrastructure improvements. Government grants have helped fund capital projects, such as the new Airport Terminal Building.

A statement from YCD explains the COVID-19 pandemic presented the airport with the most-difficult financial challenges in its history. An estimated 181,072 passengers will travel through its gates in 2020, down an estimated 63 per cent from the record 491,499 in 2019. As a result, the airport forecasts a $1.4 million loss in 2020 compared to a $3.75 million surplus in 2019.

“We’re an essential service so we can’t close even during a pandemic,” Devana notes. “Our region depends on us for the transportation of people and critical supplies.”