After months of waiting and a lot of pressure from politicians and local businesses, international flights were allowed to return to Kelowna International Airport.
“These things don’t happen without the effort of the community. Of course, the Okanagan – Kelowna was heard very loudly in Ottawa, ”said Sam Samaddar, airport manager.
“When we look at MP Gray on her work, we look at our mayor and our city council, we look at our business community in the region. Whether it’s the Vernon Chamber of Commerce or here locally in Kelowna. And we got letters from individual companies saying, please reopen international flights, ”
The announcement is good news for local tourism operators.
“We are delighted with the announcement. As we come back to some sort of normalcy, it’s a big part of the back to normal puzzle. YLW has international travel, ”said Rob Crichton, Sales Manager, Big White Ski Resort Ltd.
He says marketing campaigns, which have been suspended, will now be stepped up in the United States and elsewhere.
Crichton believes there is a lot of pent-up demand and advises people to book travel and accommodation in advance if they plan to visit Big White or other area ski resorts this winter.
YLW still has a long way to go. Samaddar estimates that the airport is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic passenger numbers until 2023 or 2024.
“We thought we were there initially for a few months. No one thought we would be there this long, and we still haven’t made it out. “
“There are still a lot of variables, and it’s getting more and more complicated for people to just travel around the world, and what credentials you need to have, and what information. These things make it very, very complex, ”he said.
Samaddar adds that business travel will be the last to recover from the pandemic.
The first international flights could start landing at YLW as early as November 30, but more likely from early to mid-December.