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Kelowna airport closing out 2013 on a high note
With record-breaking passenger numbers, more airlines added to the roster serving Kelowna's airport and more flights to more destinations than ever before, 2013 has been a banner year for YLW.
And, with the traditionally busy holiday travel season starting today at the airport, it looks like it will go out on a high note. YLW, which expects to see more than 1.5 million people pass through the doors of its terminal this year, has seen record-breaking numbers of passengers in every month of 2013 so far.
"Up to this year, we saw a slow but steady increase to get to 1.4 million passengers," said airport spokeswoman Jenelle Hynes. "But to add so many more in just one year has been remarkable."
She said the airport is on track to meet its goal of 1.6 million passengers by 2015, a benchmark set out in its master plan completed five years ago.
YLW officials expect a brisk and steady stream of holiday travellers to flow through the airport over the next few weeks.
More than 100,000 passengers and guests are expected at the airport between now and Jan. 5, with the busiest travel days of the year being Dec. 22, 29 and Jan. 5.
On those days alone, Hynes said the airport is bracing for more than 6,200 passengers each day.
And she added, even with 2,600 parking stalls available at the airport, parking is expected to be at a premium. So travellers should consider other methods of getting to and from the airport, such as getting a ride from family or friends, a taxi, a limousine, the airport shuttle or a city bus.
Passengers are also reminded to arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Check-in and drop-off bags at least 90 minutes before boarding for domestic flights and at least two hours prior to U.S. and Mexico flights.
The airport offers Holiday travel tips — what can and cannot be packed in luggage, security information and frequently asked questions — at its website, ylw.kelowna.ca under Holiday Travel.
This year, YLW added two new routes, a seasonal Kelowna-Cranbrook route and a Kelonwa-Whitehorse route that proved so popular that it was made year-round shortly after being introduced as a seasonal route. Also, this month marks the one-year anniversary of the United Airlines route connecting Kelowna directly with Los Angeles.
Hynes said the Whitehorse route has proven to be more than just a way for travellers to get between the Okanagan and the Yukon territorial capital.
"New (business) relationships have been bridges as a result," she said, pointing to a partnership between local ski hill Big White and a ski hill in Whitehorse.
She said one large group of Australian skiers coming here this winter is planning to includes a few days in Whitehorse during stay at Big White.
As part of the relationship between the two ski hills, skiers with passes to their local mountain get a 25 per cent discount at the other ski hill.