January 15, 2015 - 2:34 PM
KELOWNA - There were 1.6 million passengers passing through the gates at Kelowna International Airport in 2014, breaking the previous record set in 2013.
YLW has been crunching the numbers with the passenger count in 2014 coming in at 1,602,988, an increase of 98,205 or 6.3 per cent over the count in 2013.
“Exceeding our forecasted 1.6 million passenger mark one year ahead of schedule is quite remarkable,” Airport Director Sam Samaddar says in a YLW media release. “If you look back at our numbers 2007 to 2011, we stayed within the 1.3 million range and by 2012 we grew to a passenger count of 1.4 million. After reaching 1.5 in 2013 we were ecstatic to break through the 1.6 million milestone. It may not be long before we start talking about approaching two million travellers. This is pretty incredible.”
Samaddar says YLW is one of the top ten busiest airports in Canada and the third busiest in the province, which makes it one of the single largest economic drivers for jobs in and revenues in B.C.'s southern interior.
Director of economic development for the Central Okanagan Regional District Robert Fine says the increase in passengers has enormous economic benefits.
“Air service has become a key part of the Okanagan story — with new routes added to San Francisco, Fort McMurry, Cranbrook, and Trail we become more easily accessible for investors, workforce, tourists and technology firms," Fine says. "Each million passengers adds one per cent to the gross domestic product of the region, and creates a competitive advantage as we continue to be the best air served community of its size in Canada.”
Several new routes were added in 2014 in Kelowna. WestJet started flying passengers to Fort McMurray and an extra daily flight was scheduled for Edmonton. Air Canada announced their Q400 would travel to multiple destinations starting in 2014 and they boasted extra seating capacity. Meanwhile, United Airlines started seasonal flights to San Francisco, replacing daily service from Los Angeles.
So far in 2015, Pacific Coastal Airlines began flights between Kelowna and Trail, while Air Canada Rouge is set to start flights to Toronto this coming summer.
As part of an initiative to support economic growth, a bus service was also introduced to connect south Okanagan communities to the airport.
With the move into 2015 comes the beginning of a three-year construction phase with multiple projects aimed at further passenger growth, Samaddar says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015