Airport General Manager, Sam Samaddar opened the new airport runway Friday. (Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet)
Airport General Manager, Sam Samaddar opened the new airport runway Friday. (Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet)

Runway expansion complete

by - Story: 42999

The $8 million expansion of the runway at Kelowna International Airport is complete.

Airport General Manager, Sam Samaddar, officially opened the runway during a ceremony Friday afternoon.

While the additional 1,600 feet of runway was the main attraction, a DC10-30F, the largest plane to ever land at the airport, was the star of the show.

The plane, owned by Kelowna Flightcraft, was flown in from Vancouver specifically for the official opening.

A CF18 which was scheduled to perform a flyover was unable to make the trip from Cold Lake, Alberta, due to local weather conditions.

The runway expansion was the second such expansion in close to 20 years.

In 1990, the runway was expanded from 5,300 feet to 7,300 feet.

The latest addition was funded by all three levels of government.

The federal and provincial governments each chipped in with $1.35 million, while the City of Kelowna contributed the remaining $5.3 million through the Airport Improvement Fund.

"It is a very proud day, a very historic day and moves this airport from a continental serving airport to intercontinental reach," says Samaddar.

"The forefathers of this airport have done a tremendous amount of things to invest in this facility. If you look back from 1946 and the subsequent runway extensions in the 50's, the 60's and the 90's, they have all contributed to that success."

The work on the runway took eight months to complete. The work was done between midnight and 6 a.m. while the facility was closed to traffic.

Mayor Sharon Shepherd, says not only will the new runway bring economic benefit to the valley, there are also additional safety benefits.

"In the world of aviation, safety is first and foremost. This addition will provide a level of safety to our airport that will also bring added benefits to our air carriers and passengers," says Shepherd.

"A recommendation from the Canadian Transportation Safety Board was for a runway end safety area at airports across Canada. Our airport will have this in place ahead of any regulatory requirements that may come in."

Big White Senior Vice-President, Michael J. Ballingall, says the expansion the benefit all tourist based industries up and down the valley.

"I stand before you today with many of my team members from Big White and Silver Star, but also from Sun peaks, from the golf alliances, from the wine industry and the fishing industry. Anybody that wants to come and play in the Thompson Okanagan, this is a great day for tourism around the world," says Ballingall.

"We are simply just a non-stop flight away. It's a great day for tourism, it's a great day for the Okanagan Valley and we are very proud to be a part of it."

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