Yukon airline puts down roots at Nanaimo airport

A 40-year-old Yukon company has made a bold statement about its plans to expand in B.C. with a new hangar at Nanaimo Airport.

Alkan Air, which is based in Whitehorse, officially opened its new hangar and operations base in Nanaimo over the weekend.

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It’s a 9,000-square-foot commitment to the Island and B.C., according to Alkan Air president Wendy Tayler.

“We have been working out of Nanaimo for almost two years, and we’ve just completed a hangar and office building,” said Tayler. She added that over the next year the company intends to expand its current charter and air ambulance offerings to include corporate charters to Vancouver and Seattle for events such as hockey and football games.

Alkan initially started working out of Nanaimo in partnership with LifeSupport Transport, which runs its dispatch, transport coordination and corporate activities out of offices in Parksville.

“We provide them with the air ambulance, and they asked if we could position an aircraft in Nanaimo or the Lower Mainland and we decided it was a good partnership,” Tayler said.

Since that partnership started in November 2015, Alkan has flown more than 500,000 air ambulance miles. Those flights are the ones covered by travel insurance companies when Canadians are injured or fall ill on vacation.

Alkan has since expanded with a mining and exploration industry contract to fly workers to Watson Lake in the Yukon from Nanaimo, and has started a charter service on the Island as well.

“We are the only charter company based in Nanaimo, and we offer a couple of products that don’t exist on the Island,” said Tayler.

The company has a fleet of 17 aircraft, with three of those in Nanaimo — a nine-seat Beechcraft King Air 200 for charters, a King Air 300 for air ambulance work and a 19-seat Beechcraft 1900 for charters.

The addition of Alkan, which will employ five people full-time in Nanaimo, dovetails with Nanaimo Airport’s plans to increase its economic impact on the region.

“We are delighted to welcome Alkan Air and its wide range of flight services”, said Mike Hooper, Nanaimo Airport’s chief executive. “This growth aligns with the airport’s priority to increase business utilization of airport lands and will have a significant positive economic impact on our region.”

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