WestJet adds flights to combat major backlog at Interior airports due to wildfires

From City News 1130 – link to source story – Thank PM

BY CLAIRE FENTON | Posted Aug 4, 2021

FILE PHOTO (Courtesy Kelowna International Airport)


  • WestJet has added additional flights to deal with a major backlog caused by wildfire smoke in recent days
  • Dozens of flights were cancelled in several airports because of unsafe conditions caused by the nearby wildfires
  • Passengers who can’t get on a flight will also have the option of taking a bus from Kamloops, Penticton or Kelowna

KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) — WestJet has added flights to allow air travel out of the wildfire-ravaged Interior to resume. But with the backlog in cancelled flights, it is expected to take a while before everyone can get back home.

Cancellations were made Monday and Tuesday, with most affected flights operated either by Air Canada or WestJet.

Philip Elchitz with Kelowna International Airport explained Tuesday that BC Wildfire Service placed a “no-fly zone” in the vicinity of the fire. That zone is also right above the instrument approach into Kelowna International.

However, in an update Wednesday, Elchitz says winds are favourable, but he warns conditions could change.

“The smoke is still pretty thick. We’re seeing about five miles of visibility right now at the airport. That’s certainly better than the half-mile visibility we had over the last couple of days. But we’d like to see that improve over the next few days as well.”

He says he understands that passengers are frustrated, and weather permitting, flights should be back to normal soon.

“People have been very resourceful. But there has been a fair amount of frustration and anxiety.”

Passengers who can’t get on a flight Wednesday will also have the option of taking a bus from Kamloops, Penticton or Kelowna.