Despite a tumultuous year for the airline industry with Boeing MAX 8 groundings affecting flights in Canada, the Comox Valley Airport surpassed its forecasted passenger numbers in the past year.
Fred Bigelow, CEO of the Comox Airport said passenger traffic at YQQ increased by 12.5 per cent in the 2018/2019 year (ending in March) at the airport’s annual general meeting Wednesday.
The increase comes at a time when fees – terminal fees and airport improvement fees – remained unchanged.
Bigelow credited the increase to a variety of factors, but noted both Air Canada and WestJet increased their capacity to serve the area.
“More seats equals more people. We’re taking advantage of the capacity,” he noted.
While Bigelow said the Max 8 groundings – which happened in early March 2019 – had a significant impact on the airport’s network, particularly with flights to/from Alberta, passenger capacity grew by around 20 per cent.
He noted some improvements to the airport throughout the past year such as a 25 per cent increase in parking, LED light conversion on the apron and terminal and de-icing capacity for planes on spots one through four.
As part of YQQ’s master plan moving forward, Bigelow said they will be working on overflow parking, paving the existing long-term parking gravel lots and completing the initial terminal expansion design option analysis.
“We’re approaching capacity and we’re driving a building that’s 15 years old,” he added.
In terms of future flight network expansion and air service, he explained he would like to see new routes, but said the Comox Airport is a non-hub airport which feeds the hubs such as Vancouver and Calgary.
In terms of a direct flight to the U.S. – particularly Seattle – from YQQ, he said having Alaska Airlines service the Valley has always been a desire, but it doesn’t seem likely anytime soon. Other airports such as Victoria and Regina, who had direct service to the U.S., have lost their carriers within the past year.
To read the Accountability Report and financial statement, visit comoxairport.com/publications.