Think of it as road resurfacing for planes.
Work will begin on Kelowna International Airport’s runway this summer, with 7,300 feet of the airport’s 8,900-foot runway being repaved as a part of the airport’s “Drive to 1.6” passenger development program. The program is preparing the airport for handling 1.6 million passengers, which is expected to occur in 2015. So far this year, the airport has set records each month for passenger numbers and is currently running 4.5 per cent ahead of where it was at this time last year.
In 2011, the airport saw 1.4 million passengers pass through the terminal.
According to airport officials, with safety being the top priority at YLW, the airport conducts annual maintenance filling cracks and potential holes in the runway. But it has been 26 years since a complete rejuvenation of the runway has occurred, so the $4 million repaving project will take place over the next 12 weeks.
“Our runway is used by 62 commercial daily flights serving 1.4 million passengers annually, in addition more than 100 cargo, maintenance and private aircraft uses can occur daily,” said airport director Sam Samaddar.
“The runway overlay is necessary to ensure the runway is maintained in peak operating condition for the safe arrival and departure of aircraft.”
While owned and operated by the city, the airport is financially self-suporting and the repaving work will be paid for by revenues raised through YLW’s $12 airport improvement fee, which is charged on every ticket for a flight leaving Kelowna. That fee is expected to go up to $15 per ticket next year.
Work on the runway repaving is scheduled to begin June 4, and be complete by Aug. 24. The runway will be closed from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. each night, depending on the weather, in order to do the work. No scheduled commercial flights will be affected during the closures, as none operate here during those hours. The paving crews will use materials that will allow the runway to be reopened for use from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, said airport spokeswoman Jenelle Hynes.
In 2008, the runway was extended to 8,900 feet from 7,300 feet during a nighttime construction scheduled.
Engineering reports at that time suggested the older portion of the runway should be resurfaced between 2010 and 2013.