Over the past decade, one of the most successful business enterprises in this region has been the Kelowna International Airport.
The continued growth of airport passenger traffic and the spinoff business potential still to be realized has made it a shining star for development.
The fact that it is a government run business, under the auspices of the City of Kelowna, has also been a positive rather than a negative that even the most hardcore business free enterprise anti-government spending types would have to acknowledge. Under the stewardship of previous director Roger Sellick and his successor Sam Samaddar, and with the support of city hall, the airport continues to raise its status as an international point of flight destination.
In 2011, the airport served 1.4 million passengers while offering 64 non-stop daily commercial flights with a variety of different airlines, from Air Canada and Alaska Airlines to Horizon Air and WestJet.
This week’s announcement that United Airlines will begin offering daily flights to and from Kelowna to Los Angeles is yet one more feather in the cap for our airport.
It is a smart business move for United, recognizing that the Okanagan is a significant a tourist travel market to draw from, particularly in winter, as it is a tourist destination point.
The Los Angeles route can also help maximize potential connections beyond to the southwest United States, Mexico and Latin America.
United is making a big-time investment in the potential for the Okanagan market, something that other venture investors will need to be encouraged to do if our economy and job creating capacity is able to wean off the dependence on the tourism and commercial retail sectors, and create new opportunities for job seekers.