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Kelowna International Airport receives ‘record funding’ of $69.9M for expansion

The airline says the decision made to resume service to Kelowna and Winnipeg will delay the launch of services to Ottawa and Atlantic Canada. Global News

The extra fees that passengers have been paying at Kelowna International Airport will be used to fund upcoming expansion.

On Friday, the airport announced that $69.9 million will be invested over the next three years to meet future growth. It called the funding the most ever in its 72-year history.

The airport is the nation’s 10th busiest, having attracted 2,080,372 passengers in 2018 – a growth of 31 per cent since 2015, or 486,700 passengers.

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In making the announcement, the airport said Kelowna city council approved $67.3 million for upcoming expansion construction.

A press release from the airport did not say where the extra $2.6 million came from for the $69.9 million total, but the City of Kelowna told Global News that 100 per cent of the funds are from improvement fees.

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“Funded through airport improvement fees, this capital development program has no impact on taxation,” the airport said in the release.

The airport, which is municipally owned, says it is funded entirely through its own revenues.

The airport says improvement fees are common among Canadian airports and are used to fund capital projects and the cost of associated debt.

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According to the City of Kelowna, airport improvement fees account for 38 per cent of YLW’s revenues. Landing and terminal fees are second at 22 per cent, with parking fees third at 19 per cent.

Notably, YLW says it will be implementing a $5 increase in its airport improvement fees to $25 per departing passenger, effective March 1, 2020.

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“Today marks the next step in our plan to expand the airport to ensure it meets the needs of our region now and well into the future,” said airport director Sam Samaddar.

“With this investment, we can begin construction in the spring of 2020 to better serve more passengers.”

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According to the airport, its expansion includes the following:

  • Expansion of the terminal by doubling the size of the existing departures area, expansion of security screening and providing more retail, food and beverage options.
  • Terminal expansion construction is expected to begin in March 2020 and continue until 2023.
  • Addition of essential airside equipment, including equipment to clear snow from the apron, taxiways and runway.
  • Design of apron expansion to accommodate larger and more aircraft.
  • Design for upgrades to airside lighting and supporting infrastructure.
  • Consultation on a self-serve bag drop.

Over the next 10 years, YLW says it anticipates a total investment of $293 million to expand and upgrade airport facilities, infrastructure and equipment.

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Further, the airport says it expects to serve 3.5 million passengers a year by 2045.

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