Why Kelowna doesn't have new International designation from Transport Canada | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why Kelowna doesn't have new International designation from Transport Canada

A Kelowna International Airport employee stands outside of the airport.
March 23, 2021 - 7:00 PM

A recently published list of 13 International Airports by Transport Canada had a few eyebrow-raising omissions, including Kelowna.

While Kelowna International Airport has long since had flights to and from the U.S. and beyond, this change in status didn’t look to bode well and airport officials in some Canadian cities told news outlets their downgrade prompted fears they’d lose access to European markets.

Phillip Elchitz, the senior manager of Kelowna International Airport operations, however, explained that’s not a local concern.

“This is a Transport Canada initiative and it’s to align the Canadian airports with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s definition of an international airport,” he said.  

“It’s more of a housekeeping issue than anything. The ‘Intl’ tag is a tag that only goes on flight publications, and there are several flight publications that airline operators use.”

Those are Canadian Flight Supplement and Canada Air Pilot and some airports have 'Intl' designation in those publications and some don’t, Elchitz said.

Inclusion in the publications may not change whether Kelowna’s airport can have international flights but if the designation weren’t attained it may influence how many international flights they get going forward.

“When a charter company or international air operator plans to fly to an airport internationally, they look for the 'Intl' designation in the publication and when they see the 'Intl' tag, they know what the minimal level of service is at that airport,” he said.

So by putting the tag on the Kelowna International Airport in the flight publications in the future, it will help international flight charters understand the minimal level of service available.

YLW already meets all of the requirements for the Intl tag, Elich said, and that includes, among other things, having on site Canada Border Services and Immigration and some technical pieces as well, such as protection of approach, and arrival system.

“For a long-time we have been able to operate internationally and we will continue to operate internationally,” he said.

Until very recently there was no requirement for airports to submit confirmation of International Civil Aviation Organization minimum requirements and that’s why the list of international airports is so small, but the list can and likely will expand.

“If an airport is not on this list but is of the opinion that it meets all of the requirements for designation as ‘International,’ that airport should make a request for approval,” the Transport Canada site reads.

The deadline is June 30 and Kelowna intends to be included at that time.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels 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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