Kamloops airport at nearly 75% of pre-pandemic traffic | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops airport at nearly 75% of pre-pandemic traffic

Kamloops airport is bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's still reaching for the passenger traffic it had in 2019.

While still below the "record-setting" traffic in 2019, the second quarter of this year saw more than six times the ridership of 2021, according to executive director Ed Ratuski.

"We're almost at same flight levels as we had pre-COVID, but there is capacity in the system," he said.

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Many flights are full, but he said there's often empty seats on mid-afternoon flights. However, schedules are largely back to normal, with WestJet and Air Canada flying regularly to and from Vancouver and Calgary.

The exception, Ratuski said, is flights to and from Prince George, which were suspended because of a pilot shortage.

According to Kamloops airport statistics, 60,314 passengers travelled to and from Kamloops from April to June this year, compared to 7,932 in the same time last year. That's a 660 per cent increase.

While last year's passenger traffic was poor, it was still well above 2020 levels, which dropped to as low as 400 passengers in a month, Ratuski said.

From January to June, he said the airport is at around 63% of pre-pandemic traffic, and he expects that to rise to the same or more by next year or 2024.

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Kamloops is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, and with a rising population, comes more flights, Ratuski said.

The airport is steadily hiring back staff, which has been a post-COVID challenge for the airline industry.

Baggage handling is fully staffed, however, Ratuski suggests travellers try leaving with just carry on luggage if possible, since larger hubs are falling behind.

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He pointed to centres like Toronto and Montreal, where baggage has missed connecting flights for countless travellers.

"(Short staffing) is common at airports around the world right now," Ratuski said.

He added that masks are still required in airports and on flights, as per federal regulation. Although masks aren't required in most public areas anymore, it's something airport staff are increasingly reminding travellers of as they flock back to the Kamloops airport.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 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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