Comox Valley Airport keen for airline incentive program

The Comox Valley Airport (YQQ) is entering the next phase in expanding air service delivery — and it's a phase that has CEO Shirley de Silva very excited.

"A lot of people ask, 'What happens next?'" de Silva said Wednesday. "We're entering that next phase.

"So far, we've updated our market research, done detailed route analysis, presented business cases, met with airlines and met with a carrier interested in delivering service to a U.S. hub, possibly for summer 2012."

The next step in securing new air services at the Comox Valley Airport includes putting together and finalizing an incentive program for airlines that will help strengthen YQQ's business cases, explained de Silva.

"The type of program we can put together can bridge the gap between the airport's confidence in the market and an airline's perceived risk, because airlines have to invest substantial costs, and they face more pressures to decrease costs," she said. "Incentive packages are gaining in popularity and magnitude around the world.

"For YQQ to stay competitive, we believe we must develop our own incentive program, which will include assistance in marketing new routes and offering fee reductions as new routes get established."

Support from the airport's partners is key to developing this incentive program, and de Silva says YQQ will make presentations to the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Comox Valley Economic Development Society this month to solicit their help in securing service in this area.

Once the incentive program has been created, the Comox Valley Airport will be posting this information to its website.

"We feel these types of investments yield direct results for the local economy," said de Silva.

YQQ is currently finalizing a study that will accurately portray the economic impact of introducing new routes, she said.

"We continue to work with our current partners to effectively market our current routes," added de Silva.

Developing and expanding the airport's scheduled air services network was identified as YQQ's vision in the airport's 2011-2015 strategic plan.

To date, YQQ has presented 14 business cases to airlines.

"It's a really exciting time," said de Silva. "We've done a lot of preliminary work, a lot of behind-the-scenes work and a lot of hard work, and now we're waiting to see if it will pan out."

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