Campbell River-Jubilee Airport—a ten-minute drive from the downtown waterfront—puts it within 1.5 hour’s flight time from any point on Vancouver Island
When it comes to airports, location matters in a big way. Back in the early 1950s, enterprising local citizens realized that Campbell River’s central Vancouver Island location and proximity to dozens of islands requiring air support made for a strong business case to build an airstrip. They were right. In 1959, the first plane landed at Campbell River-Jubilee Airport (YBL).
Today, YBL is a designated Port of Entry with a 6,500-foot runway and two parallel taxi ways. The recently upgraded terminal building has a sleek, modern look and features the Fuel Up Café, as well as Budget Rent a Car and National Car Rental outlets. The airport’s central Vancouver Island location puts it within 1.5 hour’s flight time from any point on the island. It’s also close to the narrows between the mainland and the island, offering a significant advantage for small airplanes and helicopters.
It is serviced by regional airlines such as Pacific Coastal Airlines and Central Mountain Air, not to mention many private charters. There are multiple flights daily to Vancouver, meaning both business and leisure travellers are well connected, whether it’s a meeting on Howe Street or an international flight connection for a mid-winter tropical getaway.
City of Cambpell RiverBut YBL is more than an airport; it’s a hub of business and entrepreneurship. In recent years it has attracted some high-profile tenants, including TEAAM Aeromedical, a Squamish-based non-profit that provides emergency care, rescue, and transport for mountain and other challenging environments.
PAL Aerospace, a leader in aircraft engineering and maintenance, data collection, fixed wing search and rescue, and special missions, opened a base in Campbell River in 2020. Its new 12,000-square-foot hangar and adjacent 6,000 square feet of office and warehouse space were custom built to support a multi-year, $128 million surveillance contract with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to provide a fleet of four retrofitted De Havilland Dash-8. These aircraft are the eyes in the sky looking for illegal fishing, and central to the federal government’s FASE (Fisheries Aerial Surveillance Enforcement) program.
Given the city’s proximity to the Coast Mountains and dozens of smaller islands, fishing lodges, and remote communities, Campbell River has become a buzzing centre of helicopter and floatplane activity.
49 North Helicopters is a growing helicopter company that provides flight training, forest fire suppression support, crew transport, among other services. Capitalizing on YBL’s location, 49 North Helicopters has become a tourism innovator, especially in the adventure sector with its array of custom heli-skiing, flight seeing tours, and other heli-accessed adventures. One of 49 North’s more popular niche offerings are helicopter wedding vows, customized for the adventurous individuals wanting to do something extraordinary for the big pop-the-question moment—like, for example, landing with their beloved next to a turquoise-coloured alpine lake.
Rob MacNeill, co-owner of the Campbell River Skydive Centre, and his team have welcomed hundreds of experienced and first-time jumpers to the sky diving centre at YBL. In August 2021, the centre hosted the first annual River City Skydive Festival, which included an artisans’ market, classic cars, live music, helicopter rides, and “a lot of skydiving,” says MacNeill.
Community spirit, collaboration and vision helped to establish Campbell River Airport. More than 60 years later, YBL has become key to the city’s increasingly diverse economy. And it’s also a critical piece of transportation infrastructure; like the hub of a wheel, its spokes reach out to remote communities, islands, and regional airports connecting the city and changing lives.
Learn more at | crairport.ca