Pressure grows to reopen Kelowna Airport to international flights

Interior B.C. civic and tourism leaders say tens of tens of millions of {dollars} in income and post-pandemic regional financial restoration are in danger except the federal authorities restores international flights to Kelowna International Airport (YLW).  

“The international flights are very very frustrating for me, to be honest with you,” airport director Sam Sammadar advised CBC Radio West host Sarah Penton.

Sammadar stated routes from Kelowna to solar locations like Cancun, Los Cabos and Varadero by carriers like WestJet are deliberate out, however with out the approval of Transport Canada, the window for having them over the winter could shut.

“And we’re in a situation where, if we don’t get an answer from the federal government very very soon we will potentially lose those flights. And they’re not going to come back anytime soon.”

The airport stated international flights accounted for up to 30 per cent of the airport’s site visitors earlier than the pandemic.

YLW has misplaced greater than $2.5 million in income because the federal authorities cancelled international flights to and from Kelowna as a measure to restrict the unfold of COVID-19.

Tourism leaders say the area dangers shedding tens of millions of {dollars} in international spending if the airport stays closed this winter season.

“There’s a large thirst for people to come up here,” stated Michael J. Ballingall, senior vp of Big White Ski Resort.  

“The non-stop flights through Seattle into Kelowna have been just a boom for the ski industry over the years and the records will show that,” he stated, noting many international vacationers search direct flights to keep away from lengthy customs lineups and connection delays at Vancouver International Airport.

The B.C tourism trade, provincial associate Destination B.C., and federal company Destination Canada are spending some $3 million this fall on a marketing campaign to appeal to guests from abroad to the province.  

“We want to kick-start the economic recovery,” stated Ballingall, including that a scarcity of federal authorities transparency and route for reopening is creating uncertainty.

“I think we’re just stuck in a bureaucratic bungle.”

YLW is the tenth busiest airport in Canada by passenger quantity, and the one airport within the prime 10 which stays barred from accepting international routes.

Other smaller airports with much less site visitors, like Quebec City and Toronto’s downtown Billy Bishop Airport, have resumed international journey.

 

In July, and earlier this week, Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray despatched letters to Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra asking for readability and transparency on the standards and timeline for the resumption of international routes. 

“We’re simply asking for either reinstatement or disclosure as to what the metrics are in order for the Kelowna International Airport to meet those so they can open up like others are able to,” Gray stated.

Transport Canada stated in a press release {that a} resumption of international flights is being thought-about for airports like Kelowna’s, however didn’t say when which may occur.

“Consideration will be given to adding additional airports in the future as conditions dictate; that is, based on demand, operational capacity, the epidemiological situation in Canada and recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency.”

As of Friday, Interior Health had 1,129 lively instances of COVID-19, which is nineteen per cent of lively instances throughout the province.




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