WestJet Encore has announced that a new non-stop Calgary and Penticton connection will begin in October.
Penticton Mayor Garry Litke described this as phenomenal news for the city and entire South Okanagan region.
"There has been an overwhelming demand in the South Okanagan for increased air service to Alberta," he said. "The city has been working hard to secure this eastern route and respond to the region's needs, opening the door for increased business and tourism opportunities. We can't wait to get on board the first non-stop flight to Calgary."
Litke said the most important step in getting WestJet Encore was community involvement. A flash mob was held on the tarmac at the airport a few years ago, and he along with Colleen Pennington, the city's economic development officer, kept up the pressure.
In addition to meeting with WestJet executives, they met with executives from Air Canada and private operations as well.
Penticton Regional Airport was selected by the Calgary-based airline as part of its regional carrier expansion program. Non-stop service on Bombardier Q400 NextGen planes will touch down in Penticton starting Oct. 26, 2014.
"Penticton's community support and business case fits with our ongoing commitment to serving the Okanagan Valley," said Ferio Pugliese, president WestJet Encore. "We are excited to bring our low fares, great guest experience and convenient schedule to a community in need of air service options. Guests will now have access to 12 same-day connections to WestJet destinations out of Calgary."
To mark the expansion, a group of WestJetters are flying to Penticton on Saturday, April 12, to meet the community at the Downtown Penticton Association Volunteer Appreciation Celebration, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Gyro Park.
"This is just great," said Litke. "A great day to be mayor of Penticton."