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City of Penticton survey solicits feedback in wake of Air Canada flight schedule changes

WATCH (Aired March 7): Air Canada is facing turbulence as it plans to drop a popular late-night/early morning flight between Penticton and Vancouver. It comes as the airline introduces the new Bombardier Q400 aircraft to service the route, but larger planes mean fewer flights. Shelby Thom reports.

The City of Penticton is fighting Air Canada cuts at the Penticton Regional Airport.

The airline plans to drop its 6 a.m. flight from Penticton to Vancouver as well as its 10:50 p.m. arrival from Vancouver.

The flight schedule change comes as Air Canada plans to use the larger, faster and more modern Bombardier Q400 airplanes on the remaining three daily flights between Penticton and Vancouver.

READ MORE: Air Canada misled customer about rights

Critics argue that the much-needed upgrades, which will provide more reliability during the winter season at an airport notorious for flight cancellations and delays, shouldn’t come at the expense of the fourth flight.

“The availability of the flight service in Penticton is an important contributor to our regional economy,” said Anthony Haddad, director of development services for the City of Penticton.

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“Many people choose to live or locate their business in Penticton and the Okanagan-Similkameen because of the ease of travel to Vancouver and Calgary. “

The City of Penticton is launching an online survey to “better understand flight needs in the area.”

READ MORE: Re-routed Air Canada flight lands safely in Kelowna

The survey is available at shapeyourcitypenticton.ca and will run until April 6.

The city plans to share the information collected with Air Canada Express and other air service operators that might be interested in filling the gaps.

“We encourage anyone who travels through the Penticton airport to complete the survey and hope to hear from as many people as possible,” Haddad said.

South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings has also spoken out against the cuts.

He said the business community, which relies on the flight as a commuter service to Vancouver, will be left in the lurch.

READ MORE: The flight that turned this grandmother’s life around: Woman says Air Canada unfairly kicked her off plane

“If it stays the way it is, it will have a serious impact on service to Penticton and the whole South Okanagan so I’ll keep on fighting, and hopefully, we can come to a happy solution,” he told Global Okanagan on March 7.

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On Monday, Air Canada representatives met with city officials to discuss concerns about the flight schedule change.

Haddad said the mayors of Penticton, Oliver, Osoyoos and Summerland were in attendance, as was the chair of the RDOS board, and representatives with the Chamber of Commerce and Penticton economic development office.

“Air Canada explained their reasoning for making the change and heard from the communities around the issues and concerns with the loss of the early and late flights,” Haddad said in an email.

“They’re open to hearing from the results of the survey process and we will be getting the result to them when the survey is completed.  The meeting was very informative and productive.”

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