Millionth passenger flies through Nanaimo Airport

Jack Rumney qualifies for a chance to win $1 million as the airport's one-millionth passenger.

ack Rumney of Nanaimo (centre) receives a weekend bag filled with $1 million in fake money and a bottle of champagne from Air Canada Express senior lead agent Norm Schmidt (left) and Nanaimo Airport president and CEO Mike Hooper as the Nanaimo Airport’s millionth passenger.

ack Rumney of Nanaimo (centre) receives a weekend bag filled with $1 million in fake money and a bottle of champagne from Air Canada Express senior lead agent Norm Schmidt (left) and Nanaimo Airport president and CEO Mike Hooper as the Nanaimo Airport’s millionth passenger.

For the past four years, Jack Rumney of Nanaimo has been flying in and out of the Nanaimo Airport every 10 days for a job as a pipe fitter in Fort McMurray.

But none of those flights were quite as exciting as the flight he took Tues., July 3 when he was identified as the Nanaimo Airport’s one-millionth passenger as part of the airport’s A Million and Beyond campaign.

“It feels great; it feels terrific,” Rumney told reporters in the terminal building. “I was sitting in the passenger lounge, and I just went to my tablet, and Mike [Hooper, the airport’s CEO and president] introduced me, and it was quite a surprise. I’m still in shock.”

Staff at the Nanaimo Airport knew the millionth passenger would be flying on an incoming or outgoing flight July 3, so each passenger travelling on those two flights received a millionth passenger gift pack, which included a travel journal, a liquids travel set and a reusable storage pouch for ear buds.

Rumney had his name drawn as the millionth passenger and received a leather weekend bag and a bottle of champagne, along with the gift pack.He also qualified for a chance to win $1 million in the airport’s Thanks A Million contest.

In the Thanks A Million contest, Rumney and 30 others — who have qualified through weekly draws — will be invited to the Nanaimo Airport’s Thanks A Million event July 26 and will have one attempt to win $1 million by opening a safe by cracking the five-digit code.

They will also be eligible for other prizes, including a one-year lease of a Jetta from Harbourview Volkswagen, a one-week stay at Origin at Longwood, a 47-inch LED Samsung TV from McKays Home Theatre Centres, a pair of season tickets to the 2012-13 Spotlight Series at the Port Theatre, $25 gift certificates from Mr. Mikes and golf goody bags from Canadian Western Bank.

When asked what he thinks his chances are of winning the $1 million, Rumney remarked they are “better than yesterday.”

“I feel great,” he said. “I feel lucky.”

Hooper was excited to celebrate this milestone with the community.

“Really, what the millionth passenger program is about is saying thank you to the community for supporting the Nanaimo Airport,” he said. “We’ve had record years the last two years, and we’re on track for another record year in 2012. We’ve gone from 70-per-cent reliability to over-99-per-cent reliability for all of 2011, so we’re starting to better service the community and the community in return is starting to use Nanaimo Airport more and more for their transportation decisions.”

The 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 Nanaimo Airport.

Along with a larger terminal, more parking and faster passenger screening and baggage handling, the 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.