Everyone wins as Nanaimo Airport celebrates its millionth passenger

Many prizes were given out when the Nanaimo Airport wrapped up its Thanks a Million contest.

Gayl Scott of Ladysmith accepts her prize — a 47-inch LED TV — during the Nanaimo Airport’s Thanks A Million event July 26.

Gayl Scott of Ladysmith accepts her prize — a 47-inch LED TV — during the Nanaimo Airport’s Thanks A Million event July 26.

Although nobody walked away with the million-dollar prize, everyone was a winner July 26 when the Nanaimo Airport hosted the qualifiers of its six-week Thanks a Million contest.

Each of the 30 regional qualifiers tried their five-digit code to open a safe and win $1 million. Although none of the qualifiers’ codes opened the safe, each did walk away with a secondary prize.

Kees Van Jaarsveld of Duncan won a one-year lease of a Jetta from Harbourview Volkswagen, and Ladysmith’s Gayl Scott won a 47-inch LED Samsung TV from McKays Electronic Experts.

The Nanaimo Airport’s Gaining Altitude — A Million and Beyond campaign is the next step in the airport’s managed growth strategy that saw the completion of a two-phase expansion plan between 2006 and 2011. During that time 913,000 passengers travelled through the terminal, and the airport reached its goal of one million passengers in early July.

“Collaboration and partnership has been the driving force behind the success of this campaign,” Nanaimo Airport president/CEO Mike Hooper said in a press release. “Our success as an airport is tied directly to the support we receive from airport service providers, area residents, businesses and elected officials. I extend a huge thank you to all of those that stepped forward and sponsored this promotion.”

Along with a larger terminal, more parking and faster passenger screening and baggage handling, Nanaimo Airport’s 2011 completion of the airport expansion plan also extended its runways to accommodate commercial jet landings, and added high intensity runway lights, lead-in lights and a new instrument landing system to improve all-weather reliability.

“A thriving airport will not only give our residents more travel options, but will also have significant impact on the whole region,” noted Hooper.

In 2012, the Nanaimo Airport supported an estimated 700 full-time jobs directly and indirectly and, through its activities, generated approximately $54 million to the regional economy in total gross revenues, according to the press release.