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Lynx Air pulls out of Kelowna early

You win some and you lose some.

Most recently, at Kelowna International Airport, that means Lynx Air has pulled out of the city and seasonal summer service to Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg and Kitchener has come to an end.

But, on the plus side, there are new routes to Las Vegas and Nanaimo, seasonal winter flights to sun destinations Phoenix, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan will start up soon, the Kelowna-Seattle service resumes and there's increased frequency to Calgary and Toronto.

</who>This map shows all the non-stop destinations from Kelowna International Airport.

"At a time when many airports in Canada haven't rebounded to pre-COVID levels, Kelowna has seen an increase in capacity of 9% compared to last year," said Kelowna airport director Sam Samaddar.

"That's a positive sign to not just maintain the status quo, but see growth with new destinations and increased frequency.

</who>Lynx Air discontinued service in and out of Kelowna in mid-August when the airport was closed for a week due to wildfire smoke and firefighting aircraft using the airspace.

Lynx is gone

Ultra-low-cost airline Lynx had always planned to end its summer seasonal twice-a-week flights to Calgary and once-weekly service to Vancouver at the end of this month.

However, when Kelowna airport closed to passenger traffic for a week starting Aug. 18 because of wildfire smoke and the airspace being needed for firefighting aircraft, Lynx made the decision to bail there and then.

"We don't like to see any losses," said Samaddar.

"But, Lynx was a seasonal service with not a lot of frequency."

Kelowna continues to be well served with multiple flights daily to both Calgary and Vancouver with WestJet, Air Canada, Air North, Central Mountain Air and Flair.

</who>Swoop, which used to fly daily between Kelowna and Toronto, has been discontinued and absorbed into parent company WestJet.

Swoop is also gone

WestJet is shuttering its discount airline Swoop, meaning Swoop's daily flights between Kelowna and Toronto are finished for good.

However, Swoop's operations have been absorbed into WestJet and the airline will continue to offer daily flights to Toronto.

Summer seasonals comes to an end

Summer seasonal service has wrapped up for WestJet's Kelowna-Saskatoon, Kelowna-Regina and Kelowna-Winnipeg routes.

Flair's seasonal service to Winnipeg will end soon and its Kelowna-Kitchener flights have already come to an end.

</who>Pacific Coastal started daily flights between Kelowna and Nanaimo on Sept. 12. It also has twice-daily service to Victoria.

Nanaimo's new

Pacific Coastal Airlines launched Kelowna's only non-stop link to Nanaimo on Sept. 12 with daily service on the 19-seat Beechcraft.

Pacific Coastal also flies Kelowna-Victoria twice daily.

</who>WestJet flies more flights in and out of Kelowna airport than any other airline, including service to Las Vegas, Phoenix and three Mexican destinations.

Viva Las Vegas

After a few years absence, WestJet is back with twice-weekly non-stop flights between Kelowna and Las Vegas, on Fridays and Mondays, starting Dec. 15.

On WestJet's website you can also package up a flight with accommodation in Sin City to stay at famed places like Caesars Palace, MGM Grand, the pyramid-shaped Luxor and Golden Nugget.

</who>Alaska Airlines flights between Kelowna and Seattle resume Dec. 14.

Seattle's coming back

After disappearing for the summer, Alaska Airlines' daily flights between Kelowna and Seattle will resume on Dec. 14.

The winter seasonal service will cater to Americans coming here to ski and people from the Okanagan using Seattle as a great connection to Hawaii and California.

However, Kelowna airport would like to see Seattle become a year-round fixture.

"Alaska has the planes, but it has crew shortage issues," said Samaddar.

"So we're already planning for spring-summer 2024 and hoping Alaska will remain in Kelowna."

At one time, Alaska's Kelowna-Seattle frequency was three times daily, year-round.

</who>This fall and winter, Kelowna will have non-stop flights to sun destinations Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Sun destinations

Kelowna bats above its weight when it comes to the number of sun destinations and frequency of non-stop flights.

Plus, the season is starting earlier -- in October, instead of November or December.

Starting Oct. 27, WestJet will start flying to Cancun three times a week on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

That's up from twice a week last year.

WestJet will also offer twice-a-week service to Puerto Vallarta on Mondays and Thursdays, starting Oct. 26.

WestJet will also fly weekly on Saturdays to Cabo San Lucas, starting Nov. 4 and once-a-week to Phoenix on Wednesdays, starting Nov. 15.

Before Sunwing is folded into parent company WestJet, it will operate weekly non-stops to Mazatlan on Fridays, starting Dec. 14, and once-a-week to Cancun on Fridays, starting Dec. 15.

On the airlines' websites you can also purchase all-inclusive packages to the Mexican destinations that include return flights, resort accommodation, food, drinks and activities.

More flights to Calgary

WestJet has moved from its dual-hub system with Calgary and Toronto to single-hub operations out of Calgary.

That means more non-stop destinations and connections out of Calgary.

To get Kelowna passengers to the Calgary hub, WestJet has increased frequency from 36 flights a week to 46 flights a week.

</who>Air Canada has increased frequency between Kelowna and Toronto from 10 times weekly to 14 times weekly.

More frequency to Toronto

Air Canada is bumping up non-stop service between Kelowna and Toronto from 10 times weekly to 14 times weekly, or twice daily.

It's an important service to bring skiers from Ontario to the Okanagan and get Southern Interior passengers to Canada's largest and busiest airport in Toronto to connect to destinations all over the world.

Status quo

Existing multiple daily non-stops to Edmonton continue with WestJet and Flair, Central Mountain Air flies non-stop between Kelowna and Prince George daily and Air Canada does Kelowna-Montreal once a week.

</who>Los Angeles is on the radar.

LA's the goal

The No. 1 destination Kelowna wants that it doesn't have yet is Los Angeles.

La-La Land would be a big draw for Okanagan holidaymakers in its own right, but would also be ideal connection airport to the rest of the world.

In the past, WestJet and United Airlines have tried Kelowna-LA, but they didn't stick.

"Los Angeles is the goal now," said Samaddar.

"We're working on it."

Passenger counts

The forecast is for Kelowna airport's 2023 passenger count to come in at just under two million.

Originally, it was expected to top two million, tying the pre-pandemic number of 2019.

However, the week-long closure of the airport in August to passenger planes because of wildfire smoke and the airspace dedicated to firefighting aircraft means the passenger count lost momentum.

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