April 03, 2014 - 12:03 PM
PENTICTON — Penticton officials finally have airport data in the hands of senior Air Canada executives, after a positive meeting with airline staff last week.
Mayor Garry Litke, Colleen Pennington, director of Economic Development, and Andy Oakes, chair of the airport committee, met with Air Canada senior Vice President Kevin Howlett who was in Kelowna on business. The two parties discussed options for Eastbound flights out of Penticton Regional Airport, and potential business cases that would benefit the City and the airline, that faces losing customers to competitor WestJet.
WestJet has eastbound flights out of Kelowna, and the City made the case that Air Canada could gain business out of Penticton if they offered a flight east to Calgary.
The City has been trying to get Air Canada’s attention for two years, sending surveys and data collected on airport traffic and demand.
Pennington said this meeting was very different from any interaction she has had with the airline officials in the past.
“It was clear they were paying attention,” she said.
Howlett’s questions made it seem he was serious about what the City representatives had to say, and he had them send 2012 survey data for Air Canada staff to review.
The City has researched who is flying into Penticton, from which airport and for what purposes. While most visitors come from the Lower Mainland, city staff found there was a significant percentage of Albertans visiting, doing business and purchasing homes in Penticton.
Penticton Airport traffic increased nine per cent in 2013, said Pennington. So the airport is being used, and that’s what the City wants, because more passengers means operation costs get covered and the airline is successful and happy.
“We don’t want to lose the airport—it’s a tremendous resource,” Pennington said.
The City does not know yet when they will hear back from Air Canada officials about future growth opportunities.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014