Arno Hoppe wasn't aware that WestJet is now offering direct flights between Nanaimo and Calgary before he attended the annual open house at the Nanaimo Airport Friday afternoon.
Hoppe and his wife Beverly drove from their home in Parksville to see, for the first time, all the renovations and upgrades that have transformed the airport in recent years. Hoppe said that anytime he has travelled off the Island in recent years, he usually went through the Comox Airport but now that he knows he can fly direct to Calgary from Nanaimo, he'll likely use the closer Nanaimo Airport more often. Providing information and receiving opinions and suggestions for the growing and everchanging facility played a big role in the airport's annual open house.
The airport spent $27 million to boost reliability and the handling capacity of the airport, including a runway extension, the installation of instrument landing equipment and lighting, plus terminal building improvements and many of the approximately 200 people who attended the open house liked what they saw.
Lynn Cross and her husband Dennis use the Nanaimo Airport about twice a year to visit their son in Ontario and to head south for vacation.
Cross said she likes the new look of the facility and the fact that it now has a direct service to Calgary.
But she also said she wished there were more destinations offered from the airport.
"There are also some other things that we'd like to see at the airport, including longer hours for the coffee bar because there's many times we're here and we can't get a cup of coffee," Cross said.
"I'd also like to see a covered walkway between the planes and the terminal because we have to walk outside in the rain now."
Mike Hooper, the airport's president and CEO, said these types of suggestions from the public are taken seriously by the airport commission.
"Input and feedback are among the main things we're looking for at our open houses so we can do our best to meet the expectations of what people want us to have here," he said.
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