By Travis Lowe, Global News | June 22, 2021
After almost a year-and-a-half of COVID-19, Canadians are ready to pack their bags and go on vacation.
The director of Kelowna’s airport, Sam Samaddar, said there’s already been an increase in the number of people looking to fly the friendly skies, thanks to the loosening of some travel restrictions.
“We’re expecting a very, very busy summer,” Samaddar told Global News.
“We’re anticipating by July 1, the province is going to make the announcement that they are going to welcome Canadians from coast to coast to British Columbia.”
Staff at Kelowna International Airport are already dealing with what’s being called a “pent-up demand” by passengers looking to take a vacation from COVID-19 quarantining.
“On a daily basis, we were down to about 300,” said Samaddar. “We’re seeing now at least our outbound numbers are up 1,000.”
Samaddar says those passenger numbers will only rise as the number of domestic routes is set to increase at YLW.
“Prior to COVID, we had nine destinations in Canada that we flew to,” Samaddar said.
But as air traffic takes off at YLW once again, that number will rise to 16, including a connection to Canada’s other wine region, Niagra.
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Just this past Sunday, YLW also saw the inaugural flight of Swoop’s new non-stop service to Hamilton.
Swoop is an ultra-low-fare airline.
And besides Toronto and Hamilton, next Sunday, June 27, Swoop will add another YLW route to its list of destinations: Kelowna to Winnipeg.
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YLW will also see flights expanded to include Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa in August.
But the big expansion in service that Samaddar is excited about is Quebec with Air Canada on June 26.
“We are going to launch Montreal to Kelowna — a tremendous opportunity for the region and a tremendous opportunity for the people of our region to go to Montreal and Quebec,” Samaddar said.
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But YLW’s director wants to remind the public that COVID-19 has likely changed air travel forever.
And, as such, travellers will have to be patient as the industry continues to ensure the safety of its passengers.
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