March 23, 2007
KELOWNA, BC — (News Release) - Air transportation access to the Kelowna International Airport (YLW) will improve dramatically for international skiers and boarders bound for the Okanagan's award-winning family resorts - Big White and Silver Star. The City of Kelowna plans to increase the length of the runway at YLW from 7,500 feet to 9,000 feet.
"What fantastic news for tourism and residents of the Okanagan Valley," commented Michael J. Ballingall, Senior Vice President of Big White and Silver Star resorts. "With Boeing launching the new 787 aircraft, our resorts will be in non-stop range from airports in the UK, Germany and even Sydney, Australia. Won't that be an easy ride to get to our world-famous ski resorts!" exclaimed Ballingall.
During the press conference, Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Al Horning announced $1.35 million from the Transportation Partnerships Program was allocated to the airport expansion project at Kelowna International Airport. The total estimated cost of the project is $8 million.
Kelowna is well on its way to seeing a significant increase in tourism and a boost in the economy with the expansion of Kelowna International Airport, said Kelowna MLAs Rick Thorpe and Sindi Hawkins. "Kelowna offers the best tourist destination options like fantastic ski resorts, world-class golf courses, beautiful waterfront establishments, world-renown wineries, to name a few, said Thorpe. "Rapid growth in passenger volumes in recent years is a clear indication this expansion is necessary.
"Kelowna International Airport is an integral part of the national and provincial airport system, and soon enough, the doors will be wide open for the international market, said Hawkins. "With the Olympics and Paralympics quickly descending upon us, it is critical for us to be prepared for the numbers of visitors who will travel the province.
"This is the news we've all been waiting for, commented Jim Loyd, Director of Sales for Big White and Silver Star resorts. "The success that we've had in hosting international guests at Big White and Silver Star has obviously created an opportunity for more growth, and expansion of the runway represents a major step forward. We can take advantage of our relationship with the airlines and tourism industry partners to potentially serve even more vacationers from around the world as well as improve service to our current guests, continued Loyd.
Big White and Silver Star resorts are located an hour's drive from YLW, which is currently serviced by daily non-stop flights from Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Seattle and Victoria. The City of Kelowna reports YLW is the 11th busiest airport in Canada in terms of passenger volume and operates 24-7 Canadian Customs services. In 2006, 1,226,442 passengers used the airport. This expansion allows the Boeing 737ER (135 passengers), Boeing 757 (170 passengers) and Airbus A310 (275 passengers) aircraft to have landing and take-off capabilities with full passenger and cargo loads.