An Air Canada Express plane lands at Penticton Regional Airport. The airline has announced time schedule changes for flights starting in May. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Earlier departures, later arrivals coming for South Okanagan airport

Starting in May the Air Canada Jazz service between Penticton and Vancouver will change

Penticton travellers heading to the coast will soon be able to depart earlier, and arrive back later.

Beginning May 2 the Air Canada Jazz flight schedule will be revised to incorporate an earlier morning departure to Vancouver, and later arrival back in Penticton.

Currently the first of three daily, weekday flights from Penticton Regional Airport departs at 8 a.m. which will be moved to 6:05 a.m.

The second flight of the day to Vancouver under the new schedule will be at 10:05 a.m. and the final one at 5:15 p.m.

The last plane into Penticton, which currently arrives at 7:37 p.m., will be revised to land one hour later.

As of May 2 there will be two flights daily on weekends, Penticton to Vancouver at 6:05 a.m. and 10:05 a.m. The Vancouver to Penticton flight will leave at 8:45 a.m. and 7:35 p.m.

READ MORE: Mayor calls on South Okanagan-Similkameen residents to voice concerns on Air Canada changes

NDP MP Richard Cannings (South Okanagan-West Kootenay), who spearheaded a tumultuous campaign around this time last year over schedule changes between the two destinations, applauded the upcoming revision.

“This way, leaving at six (a.m.) you can be there at seven and if you left (Vancouver) around sevenish (p.m.) you could get in a whole day of meetings, so I was pleased with that,” said Cannings. “Also the early morning departure (from Penticton) would allow me to catch a direct flight from Vancouver to Ottawa so that’s an advantage for me.”

Cannings and other politicians, along with the travelling public loudly criticized Air Canada’s announcement early last year to cancel the 6 a.m. flight and late night arrival (10:50 p.m.)

A petition was signed by several thousand people opposed to the changes.

Cannings, Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki and Summerland Mayor Toni Boot even went to the airport one morning last March to raise awareness about the issue with passengers leaving on the 6 a.m. flight.

Air Canada cut the early morning departure, reducing the number of flights from four to three a day, when it brought in the larger, modern, faster and more reliable Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft in 2019, something Cannings had also lobbied for.

READ MORE: Air Canada grants ‘small concession’ for Okanagan flight schedules

Air Canada later made a small concession when Serge Corbell, the airline’s director of government relations came to Penticton on the heels of the announcement that instead of 9:45 a.m. the first flight would leave at 8:15 a.m.

In a written statement emailed to the Western News about the recent adjustments Air Canada wrote: “This early morning flight was operationally possible this summer due to availability of aircraft and crew. Our winter schedule will be finalized in due course.

“As schedules are based solely on commercial factors and route performance, we look to balance demand, both point to point as well as connections from our YVR (Vancouver) hub, and route profitability with other operational requirements.”

On its scheduling website Air Canada will continue the new schedule through to September when the departure will change to 6:25 a.m. and then it go back to an 8:15 a.m. Penticton departure in late October.

Meanwhile, WestJet will switch to its summer schedule of two flights daily between Penticton and Calgary. Currently there is one trip each way, departing from Calgary at 2:25 p.m. (MST) and leaving Penticton at 3:15 p.m.

Starting April 28, flights will leave Penticton at 6:20 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. and will arrive from Calgary at 2:38 p.m. and 7:13 p.m.


 

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