Kelowna International Airport operations unaffected by Nav Canada cuts

The private company felt the effects of the pandemic and decided to reduce its workforce

Nav Canada, the private not-for-profit company that provides air traffic control, airport advisory services and aeronautical information services, announced it eliminated jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said in B.C., it eliminated 20 operational student positions and ten permanent jobs. Before the pandemic hit, Nav Canada had 5,100 employees. The company reduced 720 jobs or 14 per cent of its workforce.

“The decision to eliminate these jobs was difficult, but necessary as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant negative impact on global air traffic and on the aviation industry,” the company said in a statement.

“Nav Canada will continue to monitor air traffic activity across the country and adapt its operations and workforce accordingly as necessary.”

In the Okanagan, Kelowna International Airport (YLW) director Sam Samaddar said YLW is unaffected by the changes.

“We’ve evaluated the cuts that Nav Canada is making and we’re fortunate that our operations here in Kelowna will not be affected,” he said.

YLW operations may not be back up to normal yet, but it’s slowly getting there, Samaddar added.

“Up to the end of August, we were down 58 per cent of our traffic, but that’s rosier than actuality. If you look at January and February and most of March, we had strong traffic before COVID-19 actually hit.”

“But industry-wide across the country, we’re projecting that by the end of the year, we’ll be down 72 per cent of our traffic… we’re seeing a slow recovery and because of the length of time in terms of how long it’ll take us to get out of the pandemic, this will be devastating for the airline industry,” he said.

Samaddar added that with international air traffic down overall, they’ll rely on domestic travel for the winter season. That is, if passengers are comfortable enough for air travel, even if just within the country.

“Usually, we’d get a lot of Australians coming into town, lots of traffic from Calgary or Toronto but that’s not available. What we’re relying on now is domestic travel,” he said.

“We’ll see if Canadians will take holidays and go to Kelowna for winter holidays.”


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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