More people than ever visited the Kelowna International Airport this past August.
Sam Samaddar, airport director, said August 2016 was the busiest month in the history of the airport.
“August was tremendously positive. We grew up 8.3 per cent compared to 2015. That was up 12,000 more passengers than we handled in 2015. August typically is our busiest month when you look at the calendar year and to see that growth rate for the month is very positive.”
The last peak month in August was in 2014, when the airport saw 152,000 passengers. This month, there were nearly 160,000 passengers.
Traffic is up at the airport for a number of different reasons, according to Samaddar.
“We’ve been adding more and more capacity with our airline partners both Air Canada and WestJet. For example, this summer we had Air Canada Rouge operating the A321, which is a 201-seat airplane, operating on a day basis between the GTA and the Okanagan.”
Another reason more people are flying in and out of Kelowna is because of NewLeaf. The ultra low-cost carrier made news in July when they landed in Kelowna.
Samaddar said adding NewLeaf to YLW means adding more cities that were never connected to Kelowna before.
One of the final reasons YLW is seeing an increase in numbers is the weak Canadian dollar. More people seem to be travelling east to west, compared to north and south.
Looking forward, Samaddar said YLW is planning a lot of upgrades and improvements.
According to the airport master plan, traffic is expected to grow by 3 per cent every year. This means YLW needs to be the best possible airport that it can be.
The airport, which is the largest municipally owned and operating airport in Canada, sees more than 1.6 million passengers annually. With such a high growth rate, five major expansion projects will begin this year.
Included in the projects are the departure lounge, the new airport plaza, an outbound baggage hall, non-passenger vehicle screening facility and West Lands development.
All construction is expected to be completed by 2018.