Essential travel only: that’s what the provincial government is calling for especially when it comes to air travel.
One of those essential travellers is Helen Hammond, who is now flying back home to Cranbrook — just in time for Christmas.
Hammond was in Kelowna for a week for cancer treatment.
“I stayed at the cancer lodge, so it was very convenient,” said Hammond.
“It’s right next store to the cancer clinic. They have great staff and everything went very well.”
Hammond said she’s reliant on air travel as driving is not an option for her — especially during the snowy winter months.
“For me, I decided that an hour flight is much more convenient than seven-plus hours in the car,” said Hammond.
It’s people like Hammond that are dependent on airport services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s something Sam Sammadar, Kelowna International Airport’s director, is proud of.
“People may not realize that Kelowna is a regional centre,” Sammadar told Global News on Christmas Eve.
“When you look at the hospital, people are going there for treatment and they’re coming through this airport. It is important that we stay open to provide our services.”
Typically, the Kelowna International Airport would see around 100,000 passengers pass through the Central Okanagan airport during the holiday season. This year, it is projected to be around 30,000, a massive 70-per cent drop.
Sammadar said he believes it will take up to five years for the airline industry to get back to where it was before the pandemic.