The Air Canada gate at the Penticton Airport. Air Canada released a revised schedule, offering hope for a return of flights cut earlier. (Kristi Patton – Western News)

Air Canada schedule changing out of South Okanagan, at least for the summer

Air Canada released their updated schedule out of the Penticton airport on Thursday

Despite the plea from Penticton and area politicians and residents against Air Canada changing flight times to and from Vancouver, the schedule is changing as of May 1, at least for the summer season.

Air Canada released their updated schedule on April 25, “to provide customers greater certainty for their summer travel plans.”

READ MORE: Penticton airport users vent on Air Canada schedule changes

“The schedule adjustment for May 1 is planned to take place. Air Canada reviews the schedule by season and the winter schedule is not yet updated,” said Angela Mah, Air Canada spokesperson.

Air Canada announced in February they would be eliminating the 6 a.m. departure from Penticton to Vancouver and 10:50 p.m. arrival from Vancouver to Penticton from their schedule when the new Q400 aircraft starts service. Flights can only be booked, as of May 1, departing from Penticton to Vancouver at 9:35 a.m., 12:40 p.m. and 7:35 p.m. Arrivals to Penticton from Vancouver are now set at 9:04 a.m., 12:09 p.m. and 7:04 p.m. However, the flight schedule does revert back on Oct. 28 to include the 6 a.m. departure and 10:50 p.m. arrival.

“I would note that we remain in contact with Penticton community stakeholders over the concerns of timings of the first flight departure and last flight arrival. While we’re not able to confirm any changes to the schedule at this point, we are committed to continuing to work together with the community leaders to evaluate the feasibility of any adjustments,” said Mah.

READ MORE: Survey says – over half would decrease Penticton airport use because of Air Canada changes

The Q400 offers a 17 per cent increase in seat capacity over the previous model of aircraft used on the route. A spokesperson from Air Canada said the schedule changes are to “maintain all of the connections at the YVR hub.”

Travellers lamented the decision, some telling the Western News they would lose almost a full day of visiting family when they travelled to eastern parts of Canada and others saying it would affect their business travel.

Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki said he has not yet been contacted by Air Canada regarding their scheduling and did not want to make a comment until he has heard directly from them.

The city hopes a strong response to their survey at regarding the changes would sway Air Canada’s decision.

There were 2,614 responses from people across the valley to the survey—including 1,581 from Penticton. Over 8o per cent of the respondents said the 6 a.m. departure to Vancouver and 10:50 p.m. arrival were described as fairly important or very important to their travel needs. A total of 61.8 per cent of the respondents said they expect to decrease their travel through the Penticton airport as a result of the changes to the flight times. Over half said they are somewhat unlikely to use the first flight of the day if it is at 9:35 a.m.

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