Kelowna’s airport terminal may be small compared to major big-city airports, but apparently, it’s big enough to confuse passengers about where to board their planes.
According to a report going to Kelowna city council Monday, feedback from airport stakeholders says passengers have trouble navigating the airside corridor—which leads directly from YLW’s departure gates to the planes—they often get lost, they leave the secure area accidentally and they even board the wrong planes at times.
The feedback, part of a report by airport director Sam Samadaar, also says the location of the oversize baggage area, as well as the arrivals area, is congested, better signs are needed to direct passengers to security and the washrooms, more storage space is needed, the departure lounge is congested, noisy and confusing for passengers and more wheelchair storage space is needed at departure gates.
As part of a new master plan for the airport to take it to 2045, YLW is looking to expand the existing terminal—including the departure lounge—and make other improvements as part of a multi-phase project dubbed Soaring Beyond 2.5 Million Passengers.
Other work planned for the first phase of improvements would include separate new baggage carousels for international flights, an expanded pre-board screening area and another departure gate.
The airport is currently the 11th busiest in Canada, with 1.9 million passengers served in 2017.
The airport is owned and operated by the City of Kelowna and is financially self-supporting, with improvement over the last 10 years paid for, in large part, by the airport improvement fee charged on every departing ticket.
Other key findings of the 2045 master plan include:
• Passenger volume is predicted to increase to 3.6 million by 2045
• The current runway capacity and length are insufficient to meet future demand
• The airport apron for parking planes will require five new plane parking stands by 2035 and one new terminal gate by 2045
• Aircraft movements are forecast to increase 50 per cent, mainly from the airlines that use the airport
• Current roadways and parking facilities at YLW require reconfiguration and expansion
• Additional land will be required for the airport in future
A survey conducted for the master plan says more direct flights and flights overseas are the top priority of respondents, just edging out the need for more parking and shuttle services and better accessibility. More food and beverage choices ranked third and improvement to the arrivals and baggage claim areas came in fourth.
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