Kelowna International Airport is now the 10th busiest airport in Canada.
YLW passenger counts from 2018 surpassed 2 million for the first time (2,080,372), an increase of 31 percent or 486-thousand over the last three years.
Airport director Sam Samaddar says the growth is driven partly by expanded air service, population growth, and economic activity in the region.
“Surpassing 2 million passengers and reaching top 10 this past year are incredible accomplishments for YLW and the Okanagan,” says Samaddar. “It’s an exciting time for YLW. We are in a period of tremendous growth and the increase in travellers translates directly to a boost in the economy and support for local businesses.”
To accommodate the growth, YLW is expanding the airport to better meet the needs of the growing region. Multi-year expansion plans include the largest terminal expansion to date, with a larger departures lounge, expanded security screening, and more food and beverage services.
The airport improvement fee will increase by $5 in April to $20, to help pay for the upgrades.
“Between 2019 and 2020, YLW plans to invest more than $240 million in new airport infrastructure and the rehabilitation of existing airport facilities. This investment has no impact on tax dollars, as it is funded through airport revenues and improvement fees,” adds Samaddar.
Every month in 2018 saw record-breaking numbers, ranging from three to 19 per cent more than the previous records.
December was YLW’s busiest month ever with 210,926 passengers passing through the doors, followed closely by August with 201,485 passengers.
The busiest routes at YLW are Vancouver and Calgary.
As the 10th busiest airport in Canada, YLW’s total economic impact is 4,545 jobs and $789 million in total economic output to the province of British Columbia.