Politicians, business leaders and tourism officials throughout the Thompson Okanagan were at Kelowna International Airport (YLW) to celebrate the inaugural United Airlines flight from Los Angeles (LAX).
“This is an important milestone for YLW and the entire Okanagan,” says the Chair of the Airport Advisory Committee, Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray. “This opens the doors for a greater business reach while giving the leisure traveller more opportunities to head south, as well as to bring those not from the Thompson Okanagan here to experience what our region has to offer.”
While invited guests waited for the arriving flight, guest speakers such as Lane Merrifield, Executive Vice President Disney Interactive Worlds and Co-Founder of Club Penguin, and Anthony Lewis of Vibrant Vines Vineyard spoke to the crowd about the benefits the United daily flight has to the business community.
“The Vibrant Vine is a strong believer in that the whole is greater than the sum. Together we should focus on building and strengthening relationships within the wine, ski and golf industries. The only thing that can stand in the way of reviving an ongoing flood of Los Angeles tourists is if we don't work together and properly market and package our products in a way that makes it easy to experience all that our amazing area has to offer."
Political leaders representing the Thompson Okanagan praised the expanded air service including B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Mary Polak, “Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to bring this new service to the Thompson Okanagan, and thank you to United Airlines for believing in Kelowna and B.C. as a great place to do business.”
“This daily flight represents a huge economic impact to the region,” says Airport Director Sam Samaddar. “On average, each daily flight to LA provides 16 person years of employment and $1 million in wages annually. As the airport continues to provide air service to more destinations, the ripple effect of the economic benefit will be felt from Osoyoos to Sun Peaks to Revelstoke.”
As one of the top 10 busiest airports in Canada, YLW’s total economic impact is 2,730 jobs and $610 million in total economic output to the province. Serving 1.4 million passengers in 2011, YLW offers 64 daily non-stop commercial flights with Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Central Mountain Air, Northwestern Air, WestJet and United Airlines to Vancouver, Victoria, Prince George, Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Toronto, Seattle, and Los Angeles, including seasonal service to Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, and Cancun; and sun destination charter services by Transat Holidays and Sunwing to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos as well.
For more information on YLW, click here.