Photo: Laura Brooks / file
Kelowna International Airport has not seen passenger numbers so low in decades.
YLW director Sam Samaddar said airport passenger traffic fell 96% in April, the first full month they experienced the effects of the slowdown in global travel due to COVID-19.
“We had nine airlines in service and we were two for the month of April,” said Samaddar.
“We had a total of eight flights mainly to two destinations, Vancouver and Calgary. “
During the month of April, only 5,700 passengers transited through YLW, up from 155,000 in the same month last year.
March’s figures, which were only partially affected by COVID-19, fell 45%.
In the first four months, Samaddar said that 459,000 passengers passed through the airport, a decrease of 35%.
“What we are projecting as we exit slowly, by the end of the year, we will process approximately 750,000 passengers, which would bring us back to 1997 levels.”
Samaddar says the airport has experienced voluntary and involuntary layoffs, implemented work-sharing programs and reduced hours.
But some aspects of the business have yet to work.
“We have other industries such as Medivac, cargo planes, business aviation. These types of people continue to transit through the airport.
“We have regulatory obligations that we just can’t get away from. “
The dramatic drop in passenger traffic means a significant reduction in the fees that are used for airport improvement projects.
That means $ 220 million worth of improvements, including a $ 109 million terminal extension, a $ 20 million apron extension, and a $ 2 million drop in self-service baggage, have been put on hold.
Samaddar says that these projects, based on expansionary growth, will have to be postponed to a later date.
He says that even if air traffic picks up slowly, consumer confidence will play a role in passenger demand.
In 2019, YLW welcomed approximately two million passengers.
Samaddar does not expect to review these figures until at least 2023 or 2024.