Flooded B.C. highways prompt more flights, bigger aircraft from Kelowna to Vancouver | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna News

Flooded B.C. highways prompt more flights, bigger aircraft from Kelowna to Vancouver

The Kelowna International Airport increased flights between Vancouver due to highway closures. An additional five flights were added to the regular schedule by airlines Air Canada, WestJet, and Air North, with Swoop flying to Abbotsford.
Image Credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/Aviationrocks99

To get people home — and get cargo between Kelowna and Vancouver — Air Canada, WestJet, and Air North Kelowna have added additional flight through Kelowna International Airport.

“They have increased seat capacity on the aircraft on those routes, normally we would see a 70 seat turbo type aircraft on that route, now we’re seeing the Boeing 737 type aircraft, which has up to 180 seats,” senior manager of airport operations Phillip Elchitz said. “Almost doubling the seating capacity between Vancouver and Kelowna.

“There’s a lot of extra capacity, and frequency on the Vancouver and Kelowna route.”

Swoop has also added extra service between Kelowna and Abbotsford six times a week with a Boeing 737.

Currently, flights are about 80% full, however, they were full last week.

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“We expect that load factor to slowly go down, as it goes down, the airplanes will go back to turboprop type aircraft instead of the jets,” Elchitz said.

Airlines were able to adjust the number of seats available based on high demand.

“Because there was so much demand due to highway closures, they were able to quickly adjust the number of seats on that route,” Elchitz said. “They were able to quickly upgrade the aircraft to add more capacity.”

Along with increased flight capacity, the airport has seen a significant increase in cargo.

“Where we’ve seen 20 packages a day, we’re now seeing 200 packages a day,” Elchitz said. “We have two significant cargo facilities at the airport. Cargo isn’t new to us, but there’s a significant increase in the number of packages.”

The airport is seeing everything from blood donations, tools, food and specialty items such as insects for pet stores.

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“All the things that would normally come by ground, we’re now seeing shipped by air,” Elchitz said.

Some airlines have added cargo-only flights to accommodate the increased loads, with one to two additional planes a day.

Elchitz commends the campus response in helping people quickly get home.

“The help people have been offering to quickly respond to the demand of seats, it’s been remarkable. Normally, airlines take a long time to respond to additional seat requirements, they quickly made seats available,” Elchitz said.

“It’s been a community effort to ensure people can get home.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Emily Rogers or call 250-718-0428 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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