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Some daytime flights in and out of Kelowna airport start today, more tomorrow

It's still a moving target.

But, here's what we know so far about daytime flights arriving and departing again from Kelowna International Airport after a week-long airspace closure for passenger planes because of the aerial wildfire fight.

Three flights are scheduled to arrive at YLW this afternoon during daylight hours -- Air North's 4:15 pm from Vancouver, Central Mountain Air's 4:50 pm from Prince George and Pacific Coastal's 5:10 pm from Victoria.

Two of those planes will turn around to be Kelowna airports first daytime passenger flight departures in a week -- 5:35 pm Pacific Coastal to Victoria and 6:05 pm Air North to Vancouver.

</who>Pacific Coastal, Central Mountain Air and Air North are the three airlines that will have daytime arrivals and departures today at Kelowna International Airport.

"The BC Wildfire Service has shrunk its airspace requirements to fight the wildfires, allowing us to operate during the day again," said Kelowna airport director Sam Samaddar.

"But the opening requires passenger planes to use visual flight rules (pilot has to see the ground during landing) instead of instrument approaches. Each airline will have to make a decision based on its technology and individual aircraft."

</who>Sam Samaddar is the director at Kelowna International Airport.

Today, Air North, Central Mountain Air and Pacific Coastal are all fine with visual flight rules.

WestJet has committed to its full daytime schedule of arrivals and departures for tomorrow.

Air Canada is still assessing the situation and is expected to decide soon.

</who> WestJet, above, is expected resume all daytime flights tomorrow. Below, Air Canada is still accessing the daytime operation situation and is expected to decide soon.

In the meantime, Kelowna airport is allowed to play catch during the dark -- from 8:30 pm to 6 am -- when firefighting helicopters and air tankers aren't using the airspace to fly to scoop up water from Okanagan Lake.

What that means is a sporadic flurry of flights in and out at night and in the early morning hours.

For tonight, nine delayed flights are due in between 8:12 pm and 4:05 am, including WestJet, Air Canada, Flair and Swoop flights from Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto.

Also tonight, a lot of those arriving planes will turn around and depart full of passengers to Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

YLW's online arrivals and departure boards show a lot of daytime flights as on time.

But, since this changeable situation, it's wise to check with your airline and www.ylw.kelowna.ca for the latest.

"Basically, we've lost a week of passenger and commercial operations," said Samaddar.

"We did have four nights of some flights in and out."

It will take some time for the airport to assess the damage to its economic impact and passenger counts.

"August is one of our busiest months, right up there with June and December," explained Samaddar.

"We were on track for 2023 to beat 2019's (pre-pandemic) passenger total of 2.03 million, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens now."



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