January 23, 2014 - 1:29 PM
The first month of 2014 is off to a flying start at Kelowna International Airport (YLW) as WestJet’s regional airline, WestJet Encore, announces a new daily non-stop flight between YLW and Fort McMurray, Alberta (YMM).
The service is designed to meet the needs of the growing number of Okanagan residents who commute to Fort McMurray to work in the Alberta oil sands. WestJet will use one of its new Canadian-made, 78-seat Bombardier Q400 NextGen turbo-prop planes on the daily route, which will launch May 12, 2014. Flight times are designed to suit the work schedule of oil patch employees, departing Fort McMurray at 10:10 p.m. and arriving in Kelowna at 11:17 p.m. Flights depart Kelowna at 7:30 a.m. and arrive in Fort McMurray at 10:26 am.
“I am pleased that WestJet is improving the transportation corridor to northern Alberta,” says Mayor of Penticton and member of the YLW Airport Advisory Committee, Garry Litke. “This will enhance the ability of working families to relocate to the Okanagan to raise their families while earning their income in the resource sector. All of our communities will benefit from the potential growth.”
Robert Fine, Executive Director of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission (COEDC) adds: “The announcement of non-stop daily service will not only enhance the quality of life of our large commuting population, but opens up new options for local manufacturers to align with a growing export market in Northern Alberta. As well, small firms are able to look at head office locations in the Okanagan. It will also significantly enhance the opportunity to attract young families to the Okanagan whose primary income earner can work in Alberta while the family thrives in the Valley. For the COEDC, this air service offers a key link to economic development. Our Alberta recruitment program, which is in the early stages, can now shift into high gear with this announcement.”
"From YLW’s market research almost 30,000 passengers commute between YLW and Fort McMurray annually for work," said Airport Advisory Chair Mayor Walter Gray. "But we also see leisure travellers from Fort McMurray who want to come to the Okanagan for a holiday. This flight will again position this airport as a hub where travellers from Fort McMurray can catch a connection to the sunspots serviced out of YLW (Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa and Cabo San Lucas)." Gray notes that YLW is already seeing such connection activity on Air North flights from Whitehorse, Pacific Coastal flights from Cranbrook and Northwestern flights from Red Deer.
The entire Okanagan Valley stands to benefit from the announcement. "Vernon is very excited about the new opportunities that this service will be presenting to our region,” states YLW Airport Advisory Committee member and City Councillor Mary Jo O’Keefe. “Residents and the business community alike will gain substantial benefits with this service. So many of our families have members that are working in our North – this will allow them more family time. For our business community, the potential to provide services to this expanding region represents valid and real potential.”
Over the past year YLW served 1,503,288 passengers and introduced several new routes, including United’s Los Angeles flight, Pacific Coastal to Cranbrook, as well as Air North – Yukon’s Airline to Whitehorse.
For more information on YLW visit the airport’s official website at ylw.kelowna.ca
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014