Anyone hoping for a direct flight to Los Angeles had better book their ticket soon as daily service between YLW and LAX will end in less than four months.
The flights run on United Airlines, but the company has decided to pull their service between LA and Kelowna and instead begin daily service to San Francisco – a city that offers an airport five hours to the north and offers shuttle service to the south.
“The LA market has been doing really well, our load factors have been above 80 per cent,” says Airport Director Sam Samaddar, who sees a great opportunity presented by the change.
“But United Airlines, as a business decision, have decided to concentrate on their hub, which is San Francisco and not LA.”
Intermittent service to Los Angeles will continue between Dec. 20 and Jan. 4 on Saturdays and Sundays and then Saturdays only from Jan. 31 to Feb. 7 to accommodate ski travellers.
United Airlines will contact any customers currently booked on flights to LAX after Sept. 20 or outside the dates mentioned above to offer alternate arrangements.
Samaddar says the viability of direct flights to and from LA was never in doubt and is pleased that Kelowna now offers direct service to another major travel hub.
“This new service to SFO will provide our travellers better connection points to many more US cities,” explains Airport Manager Sam Samaddar.
“The SFO terminal also provides travellers better connection points and closer walking distances from International to domestic gates. In addition, there are shuttles from SFO to each of the LA area airports including LAX, Burbank (BUR), LA Ontario International (ONT) and John Wayne Airports (SNA).”
Various residents in the high-tech and wine industries have also expressed excitement about the possible economic benefits of the new route.
“The addition of a direct Kelowna - San Francisco route will be an invaluable tool in growing Kelowna’s technology industry," says Lane Merrifield, co-founder of Club Penguin.
"A direct air link will greatly assist in company access, investment opportunities and workforce development as the Okanagan Valley continues to link economically to Silicon Valley. Kelowna is already known as one of Canada's most entrepreneurial cities, and this only reinforces that.”
That sentiment is echoed by Quails’ Gate Winery CEO Tony Stewart.
“Obviously the new route is great for Quails' Gate,” he says.
“However, from the community standpoint this new route will be a huge benefit as it will attract visitors from San Francisco for wine tourism, golf, skiing and to see this fantastic region”.