On the heels of its 75th anniversary year, the Kelowna International Airport (YLW) continues to celebrate exciting milestones and developments, several of which occurred through winter.
Airport Passenger Numbers Continue to Increase
Throughout 2022, monthly passenger numbers continually increased, with a total of 1.7 million passengers for the entirety of 2022, a year-over-year increase of 107%. This number is still down about 17% from the 2 million passenger mark achieved in 2018 and 2019.
Additional information is available on the Facts & Statistics page of the YLW website.
New Spring Destinations
In early March, YLW announced the addition of additional routes for the spring and summer of 2023, with service to Winnipeg, Kitchener/Waterloo, Regina, and Saskatoon. Air Canada will also be adding additional flights to Montreal. These service additions are welcome news on the heels of Alaska Airlines' recent announcement that its Kelowna-Seattle route will only operate from mid-December to mid-April. Tourism Kelowna continues to support YLW in its advocacy for additional air service to the region.
Air Terminal Building (ATB) Expansion Project Set to Begin
Shortly after the air service announcement, YLW announced that the expansion of its Air Terminal Building is set to begin this summer. As noted in the corresponding press release, City Council approved funding for the $90-million terminal building expansion project, YLW's largest infrastructure project to date. The project will be funded through fees paid by airport users and will have no taxation impact on Kelowna taxpayers.
Phase 1 of the expansion will add approximately 5,590 square metres of new space to the terminal building and 1,200 square metres of renovated space to the existing terminal building, including:
- expanded Departures Lounge to improve connections to aircraft gates and increased food and beverage options.
- expanded security screening area to reduce the time it takes to clear security.
- new direct access to south gates for departing and arriving passengers.
- improved wayfinding.
Construction for Phase 1 of the terminal building construction will begin this summer and is planned to be completed in 2026.
WestJet Commits to Future Growth in Kelowna
Last week, WestJet CEO, Alexis von Hoensbroech, visited YLW and met with Mayor Tom Dyas and Airport Director Sam Samaddar, as well as leaders and partners from Kelowna's business community—including Tourism Kelowna Board Chair, Joseph Clohessy, and President & CEO, Lisanne Ballantyne—to discuss WestJet's commitment to the region.
“WestJet has been part of the Kelowna community for 27 years,” said Samaddar. “WestJet’s commitment to Kelowna has allowed us to grow exponentially to become the 10th busiest Airport in the country.”
This summer, through the resumption of service to popular domestic destinations and enhanced frequencies on existing routes, WestJet’s total seat capacity to YLW will increase by 28 per cent compared to 2022 and further strengthen the region’s visitor and business economies.