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

VIDEO: Teaching the next generation of skaters in Revelstoke

‘There’s very few sports out there where adults and children can play together’ says Adrian Giacca

Revelstoke’s City Hall wrapped in plastic

Revelstoke’s City Hall is wrapped in plastic for the time being. The… Continue reading

Almost 99% less land in B.C. burned this year compared to 2018

2018 was the worst year on record for wildfires

Revelstoke Mountain CoLab will vote on becoming non-profit society

‘We’re more than just a space. We’re a community’

Revelstoke Mountain Resorts breaks ground for new hotel

The new hotel will include 154 rooms, conference space, restaurant, bar, and a fitness/spa facility

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Security guard assaulted in Kamloops park thanks police, public for quick arrest

Glen Warner, 71, was attacked on July 2 by a man who was asked by Warner to not smoke

Portraits celebrating Syilx culture now on display at Kelowna International Airport

Sheldon Pierre Louis’ art will be on display at YLW from now until July 2021

After slow start, Summerland sees more tourism activity

Majority of visitors come from within British Columbia

EDITORIAL: Accommodating Okanagan fruit pickers

Campsite for agricultural workers to open in Summerland

Deer and moose die after being chased by dogs in South Okanagan

BC conservation officers are asking the public to control their pets

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

Most Read