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A direct flight touched down in Kelowna this afternoon that might encourage more stay-in-BC vacation options for Okanagan residents.
When people in the Okanagan think of a vacation to Vancouver Island, they are factoring in a four-hour drive, plus a ferry ride.
Pacific Coastal Airlines believes people are going to like the new alternative.
A direct flight to Nanaimo.
The inaugural flight arrived at YLW this afternoon
"Our strategy has been focussing on short flight time over long drive," said Pacific Coastal's Berkan Kucukkatipoglu. "Removing the ferry adventures and traffic."
And Kucukkatipoglu said Pacific Coastal's research and early bookings show people in Nanaimo are looking at the same factors.
"We believe these are the two most sought-after communities in British Columbia," he said, "And that the traffic will be both ways."
Kelowna Airport Director Sam Samaddar is all smiles.
"You can get away for a weekend and enjoy your holiday," he said. "You're an hour and five minutes away."
Sammadar said time-saving is the big thing.
"You're saving a day of travel on either end by flying," he said.
Samaddar said the new service is expected to be popular with tourists and business people alike, and he expects it is here to stay.
"This has been about a five-year project to get this off the ground," he said. "So we're very excited."
Pacific Coastal, believes it will encourage Kelowna residents to try some new getaway ideas.
"Nanaimo is a great mid-island access to other communities," said Kucukkatipoglu. "It's going to be kind of a gateway."
That gateway is now open.
The first flight arrived just after 4:30 Tuesday afternoon in Kelowna.
Flights to and from Nanaimo will take off daily.