UPDATE: 1 p.m.
Kelowna International Airport welcomed its record-setting two-millionth annual passenger this afternoon.
Since 2015, YLW has experienced unprecedented passenger growth, which can be attributed to population growth in the region and expanded air service and flight connectivity, the city says.
YLW is one of the single largest economic drivers for jobs and revenues in B.C.’s southern region.
“Reaching two million passengers this year is an incredible achievement for YLW and the Okanagan,” said airport director Sam Samaddar. “This truly is a community celebration. We could not have reached this milestone without the help of our airport tenants, airline and tourism partners, stakeholders, and of course – our passengers.”
In 2005, YLW served one million passengers; 47 years after the first flight departed from the runway. A mere 13 years later, YLW is celebrating two million passengers, and is anticipating serving 3.5 million passengers annually by 2045.
To keep up with growth, YLW is embarking on a planned 10-year, $183 million development program beginning in 2019, which includes: expansion of the terminal with a larger departures lounge, relocation and expansion of the domestic arrivals area, expanded security screening and more food and beverage services, as well as rehabilitation of the airside pavement including the runway, the addition of two passenger loading bridges, additional firefighting and snow clearing equipment, and a self-serve baggage drop.
Kelowna International Airport will celebrate a milestone today welcoming its two millionth passenger this year.
This is a first for the airport, and a flight set to arrive about 12:15 p.m. will set the new record.
Airport Director Sam Samaddar has been at YLW for 26 years and says its growth has been very rewarding for him "to see this airport grow from what I used to call a glorified bus station to a world-class airport,” he said.
YLW has grown to become one of the top 11 busiest airports in Canada, with a total economic impact of 4,545 jobs and $789 million in economic output. The airport served 1.89 million passengers last year.
The tremendous growth also means the airport needs to expand, and upgrades are underway.
A special celebration will greet passengers on Thursday, and Castanet will also be live to welcome them.