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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Heading out of Canada still a slow prospect from Kelowna International Airport


The return of international flights to Kelowna’s airport has yet to resume, which could shape up to be a multimillion-dollar hit to the usually busy facility.

Sam Samaddar, YLW manager, has been awaiting news that the airport would reopen since the summer when five other airports were given the green light to bring international flights back.


Click to play video: 'Planned fee change will raise the cost of most taxi rides to Kelowna’s airport'







Planned fee change will raise the cost of most taxi rides to Kelowna’s airport


Planned fee change will raise the cost of most taxi rides to Kelowna’s airport – May 18, 2021

Then again on Sept. 7 more news was expected.  As of last week, Samaddar was still waiting on news from the agencies involved in the decision-making process on opening up airports to international travel, Transport Canada, the Canadian Border Services Agency, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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Flights to resume at Kelowna International Airport

“If we go back to 2019, we know direct revenues to the airport on international traffic is $2.5 million— those are planning fees, airport fees, a spinoff of parking and ground operations and other concessions,” he said.

“It’s a big economic hit” in what he said should be a time of recovery.


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It also means Okanagan residents and business owners alike who are wanting to make plans have to turn their attention to other airports.

“I have had businesses call me and say they can’t get their clients in places like the US,” he said, adding it’s causing a lack of productivity.

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For example, if you wanted to go to Reno, you’d have to fly to Kelowna to Vancouver, then fly from Vancouver to San Francisco and then San Francisco to Reno.

Read more:
Flights to resume at Kelowna International Airport

That’s nine hours for what could be a 2.5 hour trip.

“That increases the cost of doing business to see your client,” he said.

“This all has to do with connectivity.”


Click to play video: 'Planned fee change will raise the cost of most taxi rides to Kelowna’s airport'







Planned fee change will raise the cost of most taxi rides to Kelowna’s airport


Planned fee change will raise the cost of most taxi rides to Kelowna’s airport – May 18, 2021

For area residents who are keen on travelling to sunnier locales, it’s also a problem.

“Typically we would have more international destinations in the wintertime because we have the U.S. destinations and the sun destinations to Mexico and Cuba as part of that,” he said.

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If you’re ready to head to sunnier climes you won’t be able to do it from the Okanagan, as of yet. So that means flying to Calgary or Vancouver first and aligning a local flight with something further afield. Again, potentially doubling travel time.

Samaddar understands the necessity of hub airports but those, he said, are now seeing three hour delays as international visitor queues slow to a glacial pace as protocols for health requirements roll out.

“If you opened secondary markets you wouldn’t have three-hour delays,” he said.


Click to play video: 'Planned fee change will raise the cost of most taxi rides to Kelowna’s airport'







Planned fee change will raise the cost of most taxi rides to Kelowna’s airport


Planned fee change will raise the cost of most taxi rides to Kelowna’s airport – May 18, 2021

While it’s unclear whether a decision is just around the corner, following the election, Samaddar said that the process moving slowly is a problem.

“We have airline partners who are ready to start up service, this is not a switch you can turn on,” he said. “It takes time and planning … and people need to know it’s available well in advance, so people can plan accordingly, for business or pleasure.”

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As is, Samaddar said that growth in the travel sector has again begun to wane.

In August, travel numbers were strong with 100,000 passengers headed through the Kelowna airport.

It’s half of what was normal but this is far from a normal time, so Samaddar said it was positive.

“Things starting to trail off again, he said. “I know the fourth wave is another issue, but opening winter markets should be on the books and that’s stalled right now.”




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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