COVID-19 travel restrictions have devastating impact on Kelowna airport passenger numbers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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COVID-19 travel restrictions have devastating impact on Kelowna airport passenger numbers

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January 14, 2021 - 3:45 PM

Passenger counts through the Okanagan’s largest airport fell drastically last year due to the impacts of COVID-19 on air travel.

Kelowna International Airport released 2020 passenger counts today, Jan. 14, that show a whopping 64 per cent drop. That works out to 1,294,572 fewer passengers when compared to 2019.

The total number of passengers passing through the terminal in 2020 was 737,447, the lowest level since 2019, according to a City of Kelowna media release.

This year's drop follows several years of unprecedented passenger growth. Early in 2020, the airport projected it would reach 2.25 million passengers by 2025, but by April the airport’s scheduled 47 daily flights to 14 destinations had been cut to nine daily flights and eight destinations.

READ MORE: Without help for aviation, Kelowna flights will be a lot more difficult

While the airport is optimistic people will begin flying in higher numbers as soon as it is safe to do so, it doesn't expect to see pre-pandemic numbers until 2024 at the earliest.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Canadian airports and the aviation and tourism industries,” airport director Sam Samaddar says in the release. “Our focus for 2021 remains on a healthy and safe travel experience for everyone at YLW and ensuring the airport can continue to operate for essential services despite a significant loss in revenue.”

The airport will remain focused on keeping its operating cost low in 2021 to make sure it is in a good financial position for the recovery from COVID-19.


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