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Coronavirus: Kelowna International Airport traffic down 96 per cent

Before the pandemic the airport was averaging around 70 flights per day, now, the airport is averaging around eight flights per day, according to officials.
Before the pandemic the airport was averaging around 70 flights per day, now, the airport is averaging around eight flights per day, according to officials. Global News

Two million passengers — that was the total number of travellers in 2019 for Kelowna International Airport, and officials say 2020’s traffic numbers will obviously be much lower due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This year we will handle around 750,000 [passengers], which takes us back to 1997 levels,” said Sam Samaddar, Kelowna International Airport’s director.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Flight into Kelowna this week carried possibly exposed passenger, says B.C. CDC

In April 2019, Kelowna International Airport saw roughly 155,000 passengers, according to airport officials.

Compared to then, April 2020 at YLW saw a massive decrease.

“This last April we handled 5,706 passengers, so month to month comparison [from 2019 – 2020] we are down 96 per cent,” said Samaddar.
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READ MORE: Coronavirus: International flights have been put on hold at YLW

Before the pandemic the airport was averaging around 70 flights per day, but now things are drastically different.

“We’re essentially at rock bottom. Right now, in May, we’re seeing about eight flights a day,” said Samaddar.

The pandemic has shut down most of the airlines that YLW is used to seeing at its airport.

“At the height of our travel we had nine airlines, right now we have two,” Samaddar told Global News on Wednesday.

WestJet and Air Canada are the only airlines operating right now at Kelowna International Airport and they are only serving two destinations for YLW, Vancouver and Calgary.

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Samaddar says there is a glimmer of hope in coming in June.

“In June, we will be seeing some of our air carriers come back, so we will go from two [airlines] to six,” said Samaddar.

“We will be servicing Calgary, Prince George, Edmonton, Cranbrook, Victoria and Vancouver.”

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Samaddar says traffic returning to the airport will take time, as travellers will need to regain confidence that flying is safe.

“Based on our projections, the recovery we are looking at is [that] we won’t see 2019 [passenger] levels until the winter of 2023/2024,” said Samaddar.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Valley First Credit Union, First West Foundation support local charities

Samaddar wants to let the public know, the airport is using every measure it can to ensure that their passenger’s safety comes first while it tries to resume normal service.

Kelowna International Airport lists their COVID-19 protocols:

  • Increased cleaning protocols
  • Physical distancing signage
  • Areas that physical distancing is hard or impossible, both airport employees and the passengers will be required to wear masks
  • Temperature checks before boarding
  • Some airlines will be providing safety kits on their aircrafts (PPE)
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