Kelowna International Airport will see its two millionth passenger of the year pass through its terminal later this month, and the faster then expected growth is prompting it to raise its airport improvement fee.
The airport was not supposed to reach two million passengers per year until 2020, so to fund a speeded-up multi-phase, multi-year plan of upgrades to handle the nine per cent annual growth at the airport, the airport improvement fee will rise April 1 to $20 from $15.
The airport improvement fee is charged on outbound flights only and is collected as part of the ticket price.
YLW says it plans to seek approval to raise the fee again in 2020 to $25.
The money generated from the AIF will go to help pay for a $183-million upgrade at the airport over the next 10 years, including doubling the size of its departure lounge, adding more food and beverage services, expanding and improving pre-board screening, improving baggage handling, repaving and expanding parts of the runway, adding more passenger loading bridges and replacing and adding more maintenance and firefighting vehicles.
City council approved the fee hike Monday.
“Obviously, success breeds success,” said Coun. Brad Seiben noting the impressive growth the airport.
YLW finance officer Shayne Dyrdal told council the increase to the AIF will keep the airport in line with other similar sized Canadian airports such as Victoria ($15) and Quebec City($35). YLW remains the 11 busiest airport in the country.
She said in the past five years, YLW passenger volumes have risen 38 per cent.
To handle the growth, the airport developed what it calls its Soaring to 2.5 Million Passengers plan for improvements over the next 10 years.
When the plan was first developed it came in with a price tag of more than $300 million, said Dyrdal. But that was paired back to $183 million because the original figure was deemed not financially viable if the airport wanted to maintain it position as mid-priced airport.
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