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WATCH: Direct flight links Okanagan and Kootenays

KELOWNA– A Pacific Coastal Airlines flight touched down to much fanfare at Kelowna International Airport Monday afternoon.

YLW rolled out the red carpet, literally, for dignitaries on board the inaugural flight from Canadian Rockies International Airport in Cranbrook.

The arrival of the Beach 1900 aircraft marks the start of once a day service between YLW and YXC, six days a week.

Local politicians believe it’s a mutually beneficial service that will improve access to health services, particularly for Kootenay residents who must travel to the Okanagan for treatment.

With air fares between $140 and $290, it’s an affordable option for UBC-O students from the Cranbrook  area who may now consider a weekend trip home.

The flight time between Kelowna and Cranbrook is 45 minutes.

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Drive time is seven hours.

There are also opportunities to expand tourism for both regions.