UPDATE: Air Canada offering non-stop service from Nanaimo to Toronto next summer

Air carrier to offer seasonal service from June 21 to Oct. 8, starting in 2018.

Connecting to a foreign destination, attending a conference or going for a weekend getaway to see the Jays, Air Canada is offering a more convenient way for mid-Island residents to reach Toronto starting next summer.

A new direct seasonal flight from Nanaimo Airport to Hogtown was announced Friday morning by the air travel provider.

Air Canada will begin flying from the airport to Toronto effective June 21, 2018. Four Air Canada Rouge flights are scheduled per week until Oct. 8, 2018.

President and CEO of the Nanaimo Airport Mike Hooper said adding more scheduled service “reinforces our commitment to being the Central Island’s gateway to the world.”

“The folks in our area are using the Nanaimo Airport and we really appreciate that because the more we use it the more services that we can provide so that’s a really powerful dynamic,” Hooper told the Chronicle.

“We’ve grown 110 per cent since 2010 and it’s because we’ve offered more services at a cost compeitive and high quality stance. As we go forward and the air carriers increase the services I bet we’ll bring more and more people from our region to use the Nanaimo Airport.”

Air Canada Rouge will operate the flight to Toronto on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays using a 136-seat Airbus A319 plane. It will arrive at 11:28 a.m. and depart at 12:15 p.m.

“We’ve hosted jet aircraft as charters on site in the past but this is the first scheduled jet service that’s happened at the Nanaimo Airport,” Hooper added. “This is a terrific milestone for us to move forward with scheduled services.”

Air Canada already operates daily flights from Nanaimo to Vancouver and Calgary.

Benjamin Smith, president of passenger airlines at Air Canada said the non-stop flights more “convenient travel” for people traveling to, and from the Island.

“With more than 755 seats and up to 11 daily flights next summer, Air Canada will be flying non-stop from Nanaimo Airport to three of our Canadian hubs – Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, offering the most options and unparalleled choices for vacation travellers to get to Nanaimo and the surrounding municipalities,” he said.

“Additionally, customers from this area will have direct access to even more far-reaching destinations in our global network at our primary Toronto hub.”

The new flight gives people who live and work in the region easier access to Air Canada’s vast network of global flights from its Toronto hub. From there the many choices include sun destinations like Florida and the Bahamas, as well as major European cities.

Hooper added that the new flight is a good fit for the airport’s role as a key driver of the regional economy and “ensure safe, reliable transportation” for local residents.

“By creating new opportunities for convenient leisure and business travel, this service has significant potential for Central Island economic development,” he said.

The commission’s investment in infrastructure, including lengthening the runway in 2011, helped paved the way for the arrival of large aircraft such as the Airbus A319.

“This is a very significant new route with a large body aircraft,” says Nanaimo Airport Commission Chair Lucie Gosselin. “We are happy to see Air Canada’s recognition of the growth potential for the central island region and the Nanaimo Airport.”

And the airport earlier this year announced an expansion plan for its Air Terminal Building, to accommodate record passenger volumes and make the travelling experience even more comfortable. The expansion begins in 2018.

This year more than 355,000 passengers will fly in and out of Nanaimo Airport. In addition, cargo shipments through the airport are booming.

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