A deal that would see direct flights between Seattle and Nanaimo for the first time could be signed within six months, according to Mike Hooper, the Nanaimo airport’s CEO.
Hooper gave the potential news during a presentation at the seventh annual State of the Island Economic Summit Wednesday in Nanaimo.
If the deal is finalized, the new non-stop service to Seattle would be the second of its kind for the Nanaimo airport after WestJet started its non-stop daily service to Calgary earlier this year.
While many delegates at the summit were pleased with the growth at the Nanaimo airport and other aspects of the Island’s economy, some remarked that the economy on Vancouver Island still faces challenges.
Emmy award-winning producer Don Enright, who led a panel on the local film industry at the summit, said Nanaimo and the Island have “tremendous potential” to expand the local film-making sector, but one big hurdle is the difficult task of attracting new investments from the industry on the Island.
Enright said providing tax credits to entice more film productions to come here is one incentive.
The summit attracted a number of high-profile speakers on a variety of topics this year, including Premier Christy Clark and Ferio Pugliese, president of WestJet Encore.
George Hanson is the president of the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance which hosted the annual summit.
He said the feedback from the delegates this year has been “terrific.”
Hanson said he was impressed with the levels of conversations that occurred between delegates during the summit and the many connections that were made.
“It has to be remembered that the world’s economy is still recovering and the Island’s economy is trying to make its own way until then,” Hanson said.
“The feeling I got from many is that the Island’s economy is about as well as many others these days. There’s no doubt that there’s a lot more to be done, but there is a general consensus that our economy will continue to rebound and become more sustainable over time.”