The Kelowna International Airport (YLW) has seen a drop in passenger traffic due to COVID-19 concerns. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

The Kelowna International Airport (YLW) has seen a drop in passenger traffic due to COVID-19 concerns. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

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

The airport’s director said 6,000 passengers went through before pandemic

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kelowna International Airport (YLW) saw up to 6,000 passengers a day and about 96 flights a day.

Now, less than a thousand passengers go through the airport, with only 22 flights a day, according to airport director Sam Samaddar.

It’s quite a change from what they were used to before and Samaddar said it keeps changing every day, and they’re expecting more changes will come.

“It’s a dramatic change in the last two to three weeks as flights have downscaled,” he said.

“Right now, for the most part, we’re serving a domestic market and others who have to travel for business reasons.”

He said they have seen layoffs of between 50 to 80 per cent of the staff, from their airline partners, car rentals at the airport, to the food and beverage outlets, as the industry tries to deal with the current situation.

As for safety, Samaddar said they have closed all self-service kiosks and have put down tape on the floor to indicate how far apart people should stand from each other. Messaging about hygiene is also regularly played over the airport’s loudspeakers.

“With our international flights coming out of Seattle, we do have customs officers who are briefing and interviewing passengers. They’re doing a written declaration and as of today, the airline staff are now asking passengers a series of questions about their health in order to refuse anyone from getting on board who might be sick.”

Samaddar added that they’re taking it day by day and dealing with the changes as they come.

READ MORE: Kelowna airport issues advisory after passenger tests positive for COVID-19

READ MORE: COVID-19: YLW not affected by international flight suspension


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