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Kelowna International Airport celebrates two million passengers in 2018

Joey Hidber is greeted by his family at Kelowna Internatinal Airport. He was the two millionth passenger to pass through the airport this year. Global News

There’s a lot of fanfare when you become the two millionth person in 2018 to walk through the gate at Kelowna International Airport.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s surprising,” said Joey Hidber, an electrician in the oilpatch who works near Fort McMurray, Alta.

Every time he comes home, he loves walking down the arrivals ramp and seeing his wife and kids who greet him. That happens a lot.

“Thirty-six [times a year] on average; 18 shifts a year, a little more with vacation,” Hidber said on how much he flies.
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WATCH BELOW (Aired Dec. 14, 2018) With the busy holiday travel season upon us, Kelowna airport officials are offering tips to ensure all goes smoothly

Click to play video: 'With the busy holiday travel season upon us, Kelowna Airport officials are offering tips to ensure all goes smoothly' With the busy holiday travel season upon us, Kelowna Airport officials are offering tips to ensure all goes smoothly
With the busy holiday travel season upon us, Kelowna Airport officials are offering tips to ensure all goes smoothly – Dec 14, 2018

For being this year’s two millionth passenger, Hidber received a $2,500 gift basket. All of the attention made for a pretty exciting day for the Hidber family, and for the airport, which saw its traffic double in just 13 years.

“In 2005 we achieved one million passengers,” said YLW airport director Sam Samaddar. “I happened to be around for that as well. It took us 47 years to get to one million [passengers in a year] and13 years to get to two million.”
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Traffic through YLW has increased 38 per cent in the last five years alone. That means the airport has to keep expanding to accommodate that growth.

WATCH BELOW: (Aired Nov. 21, 2018) YLW raises its parking fees.

Click to play video: 'YLW raising parking fees' YLW raising parking fees
YLW raising parking fees – Nov 21, 2018

“We’re working on expanding our departure room,” said Samaddar. “We start planning the detailed design  next year. Also, our domestic arrivals area will be expanded as well.”

Construction on those projects is expected to begin in 2020 — the start of a 10-year, $183 million development.

Meanwhile, YLW’s latest milestone has made the holiday season extra special for the Hidber family.

“What do you think girls?” Hidber asked his two young daughters. “Do you want to open it?”

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