After just 14 months of operations, Seattle-based Kenmore Air is suspending regular scheduled flight service to Nanaimo Airport.
Craig O’Neill, Kenmore Air director of flight operations, said the Seattle-to-Nanaimo service will cease on May 4, ending the company’s first attempt at land-based aircraft service to Vancouver Island.
“We have reached the decision, with a lot of reluctance, to discontinue the service,” O’Neill said. “We’ve tried it for over a year and just have not seen growth to any kind of passenger count that we would need to consider it economically viable for us to keep going.”
The company started operations from Nanaimo Airport on March 3, 2014, with two flights a day, seven days a week, to Boeing Field in Seattle, with nine-passenger aircraft, but was never able to generate enough business to maintain that schedule and cut back to two flights Monday and Friday with one flight on Wednesday. Attempts to find a sustainable schedule never produced the needed passenger numbers to keep the service aloft.
O’Neill cited the difference between Canadian and U.S. currency values as a final blow to the service, but also mentioned it never drew the numbers of leisure travellers hoped for.
“We do feel the people who went on it found it worthwhile and really enjoyed it, but they were mainly business travellers,” O’Neill said.
Kenmore Air will continue to offer charter flights from Nanaimo Airport and its seasonal floatplane service from Nanaimo Harbour, which runs from May until September.
O’Neill said Naniamo Airport has been a good business partner.
“They have been fantastic partners and really turned over every stone with us to try and make it work. We’re very sorry it didn’t pan out.”
Mike Hooper, Nanaimo Airport president and CEO, said the loss of Kenmore’s regular flights is not all bad news.
“We’re going to continue to work with Kenmore on their charter services,” Hooper said.
He added that Kenmore’s seaplane flights to Seattle will enhance air carrier service in the region along with additional Air Canada flights to Vancouver and Calgary starting May 1.
“In terms of air transportation in the area, there’s going to be a considerable increase in options people can catch, whether it’s into the States with Kenmore because they’re going to add flights, or if it’s into Vancouver or Alberta. It’s all increasing,” Hooper said.