Kelowna International Airport. —Image: Capital News file

Kelowna International Airport. —Image: Capital News file

Kelowna International Airport saw 64% decrease in passenger numbers in 2020

The airport said these numbers haven’t been seen since 1997

Overall the Kelowna International Airport (YLW) experienced a 64 per cent decrease in passenger traffic throughout 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions that came with it.

YLW released its final passenger numbers for 2020, on Thursday, which show a total of 737,447 passengers travelled through the airport last year. The 2020 passenger levels at the airport haven’t been seen since 1997.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Canadian airports and the aviation and tourism industries,” airport director Sam Samaddar said.

“Our focus for 2021 remains on a healthy and safe travel experience for everyone at YLW and ensuring the airport can continue to operate for essential services despite a significant loss in revenue.”

Between 2016 and 2018, YLW experienced unprecedented passenger growth, which was driven by expanded air service, flight connectivity, population growth, as well as economic activity in the Okanagan. Early in 2020, the airport projected it would reach 2.25 million passengers by 2025.

But by April 2020, YLW’s 47 daily flights to 14 destinations went down to nine daily flights to eight destinations.

YLW remained open throughout the pandemic to provide access to commercial flights within the region, helping patients connect to medical care or for other essential travel for work.

“In 2021, YLW will remain focused on keeping operating costs low to ensure the airport is in a good financial position to take part in the recovery from COVID-19.”

“YLW will also continue to identify new potential revenue streams through strategic development that can be reinvested back into the airport,” YLW staff said in a statement.

READ: 536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

READ: CEO of air traffic controller Nav Canada cites ‘staggering’ drop in flights in 2020


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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City of Kelowna