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Comox Valley Airport wooing multiple airlines to fly here

The Comox Valley Airport Commission continues to make expanding air service delivery its top priority.
Working toward that goal, the Comox Valley Airport has presented 11 business cases to airlines, CEO Shirley de Silva explained during the Comox Valley Airport Commission (CVAC)'s annual public meeting July 21.
"For the past eight months, we've been working with InterVISTAS, our aviation consultants, to identify and build business cases for possible new destinations," she said, adding later in the meeting that Kelowna has been identified as a potential market.
"We've focused on destinations that are currently being accessed by passengers residing within our catchment area who are not using the Comox Valley Airport for their travel needs. Our objective is to fulfill their needs out of the Comox Valley Airport, so we've been approaching airlines, including our current tenants, with business cases for destinations."
So far, CVAC has had four headquarter meetings with airlines in Canada and the U.S. and has pitched to airlines at organized sessions, explained de Silva.
"I'd like to clarify that this is a lengthy process, and most of the work occurs behind the scenes, and negotiations can take up to five years or more," she said. "It is a highly competitive and confidential process. Details about which airlines we've been meeting with are not available at this time, but I can assure you that when the time is right, we'll report it."
During the meeting, de Silva spoke about the airport's accomplishments in the past year.
"The airport had a successful year, with increased passenger numbers and increased exposure in the aviation industry, in conjunction with our aggressive efforts to market the airport," she said. "We've had an excellent year, and we've achieved our objectives. I'm pleased with the increase in passenger numbers, our increased exposure at the local level, our increased presence within the aviation industry, the quality of services offered by our dedicated staff and volunteers, our strong financial position and the efforts we're putting forward to meet the needs of the travelling public and our contribution to the Comox Valley."
In 2010, 296,567 travellers moved through the Comox Valley Airport, which represents an increase of 534 passengers per month over the previous year.
"In 2010, our in-planing and de-planing passengers increased by 2.3 per cent over 2009," said de Silva. "In general, 813 passengers pass through our facilities each day, more so if you add staff, volunteers and greeters. Our year-to-date is a 3.3-per-cent increase."
de Silva's report focused on the airport's progress toward its new strategic objectives, which are found in the 2011-15 strategic plan that the CVAC board approved in October.
The plan includes five goals: expanded air services, facilities that meet customer needs, effective communications, financially viable and competitive operations, and professional development for staff and board members.
"Based on current traffic patterns and expectations, our facilities are adequate to meet the needs in the short term," said de Silva. "As we approach new airlines, we want to be able to assure them we are operating our terminal in a fiscally responsible manner, and that means utilizing our current infrastructure to its full capacity."
Effective communications was identified as an area of importance, and CVAC has been working diligently to address it, explained de Silva.
"Working toward this objective, we've undertaken a branding initiative, which provides a strong platform to effectively market ourselves to passengers and airlines," she said.
In addition to the branding, CVAC has developed and implemented a strategic communications and marketing plan, actively participated in and supported regional tourism and economic development endeavours, partnered with the tourism industry to package and sell regional tourism products, developed internal and external newsletters and developed business cases targeted at airlines.
writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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