Air Canada Back at Comox Valley Airport
Beginning August 1, Air Canada Jazz will provide regional jet service between Comox and Calgary. “It’s direct to Calgary; they will fly Air Jazz’s 50-seat CRJ,” Airport General Manager Chuck Fast said. Flights will leave Calgary at 11:50 a.m. and arrive in Comox at 12:20 p.m. The flight back to Alberta will leave Comox at 12:50 p.m. and arrive in Calgary at 3:10 p.m.
The Air Canada flight originates in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, continues on to Calgary and then Comox. This routing will offer Comox passengers all new territory. “We’re encouraged they’re going to Yellowknife instead of the same old, same old,” Fast said. “It’s a new market for us.”
Air Jazz is connective to all other Air Canada flights, which is another bonus for passengers, he said. Air Jazz will have its own counter in the departure area of the airport and will employ five or six people Fast said.
Air Canada terminated direct flights from Comox Valley Airport in 2002 when its regional AirBC pulled out, handing over its passenger service between Comox and Vancouver to Pacific Coastal Airlines.
Central Mountain Air, which came back to the Comox Valley Airport in 2003, had been Air Canada’s third-tier airline in the late 1990s before that service disappeared off the radar. Central Mountain Air will continue to provide connecting service with Air Canada flights in Vancouver, Fast said.
The next step for Air Canada in Comox would be to reinstate the Comox-Vancouver service. Passenger numbers at Comox continue to balloon since the Cottingham Terminal opened just over a year ago.
“We’re up 10 per cent for the first quarter,” Fast said. “What’s outstanding is that’s up 10 per cent over last year, which was up 26 per cent (over the year before). “The passenger loads are good. I think the (Air Canada) service will add some stimulation for the market as well.”
Because passenger numbers are up, the airport maxed out on its parking during peak periods last year. So the Comox Valley Airport Commission is looking at doing a small expansion in behind the “Welcome to Comox Valley Airport” sign, along Knight Road. “And then we’ll run out of property,” he said.
Air cargo has taken a back seat at the airport in favour of its new passenger terminal, but only because of supply and demand, Fast said.
In order for, say, seafood producers to be able to use air cargo effectively from Comox there has to be consistent cargo space on the aircraft flying in and out of there. “It just doesn’t seem viable at this time” because airlines don’t have enough extra space beyond passengers’ luggage, Fast said.