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

Just Posted

Driver in North Shuswap observed vomiting after crashing vehicle, then running

Chase RCMP say woman was impaired, given 90-day driving prohibition

RCMP called in North Shuswap about vehicle with U.S. licence plates

Police summoned on July 4 regarding car parked with California plates

Motorcycle rider seriously injured in collision with vehicle west of Pritchard

Chase RCMP report that motorcycle was attempting to pass when crash occurred

Road repaired after landslide in Seymour Arm

A temporary fix for a damaged water system has also been completed

Input wanted on cannabis grow near Gardom Lake

A temporary use permit is being considered for a Capri Road property

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Summerland Ornamental Gardens remain closed

Staff and volunteers continue to weed and maintain plants

Kelowna taxpayers could pay $90K for losses caused by cancelled Memorial Cup

$135,000 would be put aside for a potential bid for a future opportunity to host the tournament

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Predator mutilated cats in Kelowna: BC SPCA

The BC SPCA confirmed a mutilated cat was killed by a predator

LETTER: Former Summerland mayors speak out on solar project

Five former Summerland mayors sign name to short letter

Emergency crews conduct CPR on unresponsive person in Okanagan Lake

West Kelowna emergency crews are on scene at the shores of Jubilee Mobile Home Park

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Most Read