Safety issue cancels night flights at Penticton Regional Airport | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Safety issue cancels night flights at Penticton Regional Airport

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
October 31, 2016 - 1:08 PM

PENTICTON - Safety concerns about nighttime flying into Penticton Regional Airport has impacted flights into and out of the city.

The safety concerns are centred around a set of runway lights that are obscured by trees on land adjacent the airport. The city’s two commercial carriers — WestJet and Air Canada's contractor Jazz Aviation — have ceased nighttime flights to and from the city.

The issue resulted in WestJet cancelling today's early flight, Oct. 31. Passengers were accommodated by the airline’s first daytime flight later in the morning.

Transport Canada's Natasha Gauthier says in an email a recent safety audit at the Penticton Regional Airport identified some trees at both ends of the runway exceeded acceptable limits of height to which they projected onto airport lands. As a result, the airport has increased the approach angle an airplane must take to maintain safe clearance, but by making this change the useable length of runway has been reduced.

Gauthier says Transport Canada is committed to resolving the issue as quickly as possible.

WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart says she understands a meeting may be taking place today with the landowners whose property the trees are on.

“Out of an abundance of caution WestJet is currently not flying into Penticton at night,” she said in an email, adding anyone with questions is welcome to call 1-888-WestJet.

Teri Udle with Jazz Aviation says in a email Jazz operations to the city are also impacted.

“We are in close contact with the Penticton Airport as they work on a temporary solution to the runway approach,” she states.

Udle says in the interim, the airline is working on solutions to continue operating the Penticton to Vancouver schedule by operating larger aircraft during daylight hours and "utilizing Kelowna airport with ground transportation."

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