December was the busiest month ever at Kelowna International Airport and it capped off a record-breaking year at YLW that saw a total of more than 1.7 million passengers pass through the terminal for the first time ever.
According to airport director Sam Samaddar, the 166,537 passengers who used the airport in December broke the previous monthly record of 160,846 set earlier in the year, in August.
“This is great news not only for YLW, but also the entire region,” said Samaddar.
“The increase in passenger traffic means an increase in tourism, a boost to the regional economy and additional support for our local businesses.”
Nearly every month in 2016 saw high level’s of growth in terms of passenger numbers, ranging from a low of 4.5 per cent in May to a high of just under 17 per cent in October.
The only month where growth was less than one per cent was April, when it registered an increase of just 461 passengers (0.39 per cent).
The airport finished the year strong with four straight months of double-digit growth.
In total nearly 140,000 more passengers used YLW in 2016 than did in 2015.
“The reason for the increase is in large part due to the launch of new routes and airlines, along with increased capacity on current popular destinations,” said Samaddar.
“The Okanagan’s status as a four-season destination doesn’t hurt either, with world-class skiing, wineries and agri-tourism drawing travellers to the region, especially with the weakened Canadian dollar.”
The airport, owned and operated by the City of Kelowna, is the 10th busiest in Canada and undergone a series of expansions and additons over the last 10 years based on it continuing growth.
According to its current master plan, an additional three per cent growth is expected this year, following the 8.7 per cent growth recorded in 2016.