Jul 1, 2008 | Marmot, Summer 2008

Flying here continues to get easier, according to 1 million passengers.

Getting to the Comox Valley by air is becoming even easier. A new airline offering floatplane service from downtown Comox to downtown Vancouver saw its inaugural flight touch down in Comox Harbour on April 1.

West Coast Air offers six scheduled flights from Monday to Friday and two on Saturday and Sunday, providing convenient access to and from the Lower Mainland.

“The Town of Comox and the region have been developing the infrastructure and support for this type of service over the last 10 years. West Coast Air has a tremendous reputation and will add a vital and convenient transportation link for the entire North Central Island region,” said John Watson, Executive Director, Comox Valley Economic Development.

“The Comox Valley has been an area we’ve had our eye on for some time,” said Rick Baxter, President and CEO of West Coast Air.

“It’s a thriving business community with diverse industry and significant development opportunities. It’s clear that travel time needs to be minimized.”

Cutting down that travel time will provide an opportunity for increased visitors to the Valley and its many attractions, including Mount Washington Alpine Resort.

While floatplane service is new in Comox, land-based air travel is not. The Comox Valley Airport celebrated its one millionth passenger in May. The new terminal on Knight Road only opened in 2004, Comox Valley Airport Commission CEO Chuck Fast said.

The airport saw a 30 per cent increase in business last year, and this spring was already seeing 15 per cent more business.

“The market awareness is increasing,” Fast said.

An increase in air travel has its own set of challenges, like crowded passenger seating areas. The airport commission is already looking at expanding the terminal.

“What we failed to dream was the economic development that would come because of the airport access,” Fast said. “That’s not a normal community stimulus. It’s because of the transportation link.”

The airport is often the first stop for prospective ski teams looking to use Mount Washington as a training facility leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler.

The winning contract for design development of the airport international service expansion went to Stantech. One of the partners is Thomas Moore Architects, which designed the new Victoria Airport terminal. Fast estimates the expansion will cost $30 million before it is complete.

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