December 02, 2013 - 8:34 AM
PENTICTON - WestJet wants Penticton to convince the company to park one or more of its planes at the Peach City airport.
The airline will have new planes in 2015 and economic development director Colleen Pennington wants the company to stop passing up the Penticton Regional Airport when it looks for new communities to connect with. The company has already picked Fort St. John, Nanaimo and other destinations.
She and Mayor Garry Litke visited the WestJet Calgary office on Monday to pitch the money-making opportunities available in Penticton. The two came prepared with images of apples, fields and bottles of wine and information on why people come to the south Okanagan, especially visitors from Alberta and Saskatchewan. Before the 2008 recession, 95,000 travelers came and went through the airport every year.
Pennington said Litke asked WestJet what it will take for the company to park a plane at CYYF and what to do to get Penticton to the top of the list.
The company told the pair they want a three-year-plan on how they would increase customer traffic, and details on available hotel rooms, driving distances, etc. WestJet also provided them with examples of other communities' plans as a benchmark for Penticton to meet.
As for the city offering cash or other resources to draw the company in Pennington said an incentive cash package never hurts, but WestJet would rather put its operations where it is going to make money year after year.
"What they (are) looking for is a sustainable business case. You don't move around huge capital assets like planes on a whim."
The city will revisit WestJet around the time the new planes come online and the company looks for new destinations.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013