Air Canada won't change flight schedules after scathing Penticton survey - InfoNews

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Air Canada won't change flight schedules after scathing Penticton survey

Air Canada announced plans, Feb. 14, 2019, to increase capacity on Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton and other western destinations with the introduction of Bombardier's Q 400 aircraft this spring.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Bombardier
April 17, 2019 - 4:07 PM

PENTICTON - A record number of citizens spoke up in response to the City’s recent survey about changes to Air Canada’s flight schedule at the Penticton airport, and a majority aren't too happy.

Air Canada plans to drop an early morning flight from Penticton to Vancouver, and a late evening flight back to the city from YVR, something that has caught the attention of local politicians. Those surveyed expressed concerns they would no longer be able to fly to the Lower Mainland to conduct business and fly back in a single day. The city survey also found 89 per cent of respondents preferred to fly out of Penticton because it was close to home.

For its part, Air Canada says those travellers make up only a small portion of passengers flying between Penticton and Vancouver.

Respondents to the City survey said they did not want Air Canada's 6 a.m. departure for Vancouver, or the 10:50 p.m. arrival from Vancouver, dropped from the schedule with 80 per cent saying the flights were very important to their needs. If Air Canada dropped those flights, 61.8 per cent said they would decrease the number of flights they take out of Penticton, with 57 per cent saying the new flight schedule’s morning departure of 9:35 a.m. doesn’t meet their needs.

Survey participants said it would cost them an additional $100 to $300 in costs per trip for hotels, parking, food and cabs in Vancouver under the new schedule being introduced by Air Canada.

Air Canada spokesperson Angela Mah said in an emailed statement today, April 17, the airline was ensuring flights out of Penticton made it to Vancouver in a timely fashion so passengers could connect with the airline’s other top destinations. She said point-to-point, same-day return travel represented only a small percentage of travellers on the route.

Mah said the airline’s introduction of larger Q400 aircraft meant an increase in seating capacity, which was also an important factor in developing flight schedules.

“We are aware of community concerns over the timing of the first flight departure and the last flight arrival and we’re in contact with Penticton community stakeholders to discuss this. While we’re not able to confirm any changes to the schedule, we are committed to working together with community leaders to evaluate the feasibility of any adjustments,” Mah said in the statement.

South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings said in media release the change in the Air Canada schedule has the potential for reduced, not improved usage of the airport.

“I’ve met with other carriers. They are well aware of the opportunity Air Canada is turning its back on. I think Air Canada is being penny wise but pound foolish by ending these flights,” he said.

The introduction of new Bombardier Q400 aircraft was also welcomed by respondents for its larger capacity and potential to land in low cloud conditions. The new aircraft are quieter, more comfortable and have 17 per cent additional seating capacity.

The city received 2,614 responses from people throughout the valley, including 1,581 from Penticton.

Penticton's director of development services Anthony Haddad said the city had hoped to receive 2,000 responses, calling the issue an important one to residents and the business community.

“The results affirm the importance of the current schedule of the current schedule to the leisure traveller who needs to make connections but also the business traveller who is trying to get a full day or two of meetings in Vancouver,” Haddad said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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