Airlines add more flights, larger aircraft on routes between Okanagan, Kamloops and Vancouver | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Airlines add more flights, larger aircraft on routes between Okanagan, Kamloops and Vancouver

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

With landslides blocking all main highway routes between the Lower Mainland and the southern Interior, airlines are adding more flights and larger aircraft to account for the increased traffic.

Air Canada, WestJet and Air North added extra flights earlier this week. Airlines are also using larger aircraft moving from Dash 8-400 to 737s between Kelowna and Vancouver, Kelowna International Airport director Sam Samaddar told today, Nov. 19.

“You go from a 75 to 80 seat airplane to a 140 to 150 seats based on the configuration,” he said, adding today and this weekend more flights are being added intermittently.

The larger aircraft have more storage, so businesses are also using them to transport goods.

“I was talking to a florist for example. They were having flowers flown in by air to their shop… because that was the only way to get those flowers to Kelowna," Samaddar said.

People that need to travel for business are now flying instead of driving, he said.

READ MORE: The latest on B.C.'s recovery from flooding, mudslides

In terms of airport traffic volume, the airport was seeing 1,000 to 1,200 passengers outbound, and 1,000 to 1,200 inbound on a regular Tuesday and Wednesday, accounting for COVID-19, he said.

“What we saw this week is an upwards of 2,000 outbound and 2,000 inbound so about 4,000 passengers,” Samaddar said. “We’ve certainly seen an increase in traffic as a result of the highways being closed and obviously quite a few people were stranded on both sides.”

The airport is working with the airlines to increase the number of flights from the Lower Mainland to Kelowna on a permanent basis. 

He said their concern is people may start cancelling their bookings if they're flying to the region for a ski holiday plus Christmas holidays are coming up.

Until the end of November, airlines are holding their prices steady, recognizing the situation, he said. Typically the closer you get to the date of departure, the more expensive tickets become.

Samaddar had no knowledge of flights specifically being used to transport emergency supplies to the Lower Mainland, but that doesn’t mean supplies aren’t being shipped as cargo.

Multiple airlines have added flights in Kamloops, Kelowna and Penticton to carry passengers and cargo to and from Vancouver.

Air Canada has also added flights at Kamloops and Kelowna airports to carry medical supplies from across the country, according to a social media post by the airline. WestJet has also added flights in and out of B.C. due to the flooding situation.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 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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