YLW’s senior airport operations manager Phillip Elchitz said it will take them three years to fully recover. (File)

‘Gradual return to service’ as passengers adjust after COVID-19: Kelowna International Airport

Airport director Sam Samaddar said they’re projecting passenger numbers similar to 1996-1997

As B.C. eases into the third phase of its reopening plan, it means an increase of flight service at the Kelowna International Airport (YLW), but it doesn’t mean a full recovery quite yet.

YLW airport director Sam Samaddar said from April to May, the airport only had flights to Calgary and Vancouver but they’re projecting an increase of flights in July.

“We’ll see services to Whitehorse, Victoria, Vancouver, Prince George, Cranbrook, Calgary and Edmonton. So we’re certainly seeing more service developed within the region, in Western Canada, but what we’ll see is a gradual return to service as people get comfortable with flying,” he said.

“In our projections, we’ll probably hit about 650,000 to 750,000 passengers in 2020, which takes us to about 1996-1997 levels. It’s going to take us about three years to get to where we were which was about two million passengers in 2019.”

Samaddar added they’re looking at having as much of the check-in process as possible online to minimize person-to-person contact.

“If you don’t have any bags to check-in, then check-in online and get your boarding cards printed off so you can go directly to pre-board screening,” he said.

“But one of the biggest things is that we’ve done all of the safety measures in terms of the cleanliness of the facility and having stations for hand sanitizers and those kinds of things but the biggest protection will be the use of masks.”

He said airports, airlines and planes were not designed for physical distancing.

“If you look at our procedures like with pre-board screening or the onboarding process, you’re really in close proximity to each other. And even though we’re trying to maintain the separation as much as we can, really the protection is the mask and we ask passengers to wear while they’re at the airport and while they’re in the aircraft.”

YLW staff have previously said airport operations won’t be back to full capacity until 2023, with domestic flights experiencing a rebound first, followed by international travel.

“We’re expecting to see approximately 60 per cent of our domestic traffic to be back by the end of this year,” senior airport operations manager Phillip Elchitz said.

READ: ‘Full Recovery will take up to three years’: Kelowna International Airport

READ: ‘Dramatic change’: YLW traffic drops to less than 1,000 passengers a day


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Air Travel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Man accused in Salmon Arm 7-Eleven fire sentenced for bail breach

Sentencing for arson to take place later this month in BC Supreme Court

COVID-19: Salmon Arm city hall, law courts open gradually as restrictions ease

City staff to remain behind glass, court registry expected to open doors July 13

Speedboat driver sentenced in fatal Shuswap houseboat collision granted day parole

Leon Reinbrecht began serving a three-year sentence in a federal prison in January 2019

New charging station part of South Shuswap Transportation Society roadmap

Director’s Notes by CSRD Electoral Area E Director Paul Demenok

Sicamous to receive $6 million for construction of Shuswap Healing Centre

Federal/provincial infrastructure funding also announced for Chase pedestrian bridge

84-year-old Okanagan resident finishes 12,000-piece puzzle

Willie Tribiger started the puzzle in 2013, completing it in six and a half years

Aces aplenty at Okanagan golf course

Vernon Golf and Country Club has 14 recorded holes-in-one since April 30

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

Booze on beach extended through summer in Penticton

Pilot project will stay in place until Oct. 15

Sad ending in case of missing Okanagan senior

Body of Vernon man Wayne Orser found floating in Okanagan Lake Tuesday, July 7

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Most Read