Kelowna airport temporary shut down of food, beverage service ‘unprecedented’ due to lack of staff | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna airport temporary shut down of food, beverage service ‘unprecedented’ due to lack of staff

COVID-19 vaccine refusal, difficulties finding workers and people calling in sick have compounded into the Kelowna airport’s temporary closure of food and beverage services tonight.

The Kelowna International Airport advised travellers this afternoon, Jan. 9 that services at the airport will be unavailable after 6 p.m. Passengers will still be able to get water and use the vending machines, said airport director Sam Samaddar.

“I can’t tie it specifically to Omicron, but what our concessions are finding is that a lot of people have called in sick for their afternoon and evening shifts and it’s to a point where the various concessions that we have… we’re basically decimated,” he said.

Various businesses are preparing for a reduction of operations due to the highly contagious variant.

READ MORE: Highly contagious variant could stress Canadian food production, farm groups say

Samaddar called it “unprecedented” that the airport is unable to offer food and beverage services. Employees have been working overtime today and some workers started at 4 a.m.

The airport lost 97% of business during the pandemic, so employees were laid off. It’s also been difficult to hire people again as government aid programs are still in place and the incentive for people to come work is difficult as airport traffic has ramped up last month, Samaddar said.

They also lost between 10 to 15% of employees who refused to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in November. Transport Canada mandated vaccines among airport staff. 

“It’s a combination of things that have put us where we are today,” he said.

Samaddar said they apologize for the inconvenience and encourages passengers to get something to eat prior to departing on their flight.


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