YLW embarks on expansion

Over the next three years Kelowna International Airport will spend in excess of $55 million on four major expansion projects.

These projects are part of YLW's 'Drive to 2016' and 'Flight 2020' initiatives.

YLW reached its target of 1.6 million passengers a year ahead of schedule, and airport manager Sam Samaddar said Tuesday they expect to reach 2 million by 2020 and 2.4 million by 2025.

"What we've done is systematically look ... in order to process that many passengers through the airport, we need to ensure our facilities grow in order to match that growth," said Samaddar.

"If you look at an air terminal building, it is really a piece of infrastructure that really processes people and baggage. We have to make sure all of these areas are in sync with each other as traffic demand grows."

Samaddar said the last thing an airport wants to do is delay people which, in turn, delays flights.

With that in mind. YLW will embark on four expansion projects beginning this year.

They include:

  • Outbound baggage hall expansion
  • Apron expansion
  • Departure lounge enhancements
  • Airport plaza

Samaddar said this will be the most ambitious development the airport has ever seen.

Expansion of the outbound baggage hall will be undertaken in three phases and will take three years to complete.

It includes construction of a new baggage area which will be able to handle nearly twice the amount of luggage as the current system.

Phillip Elchitz, airport development manager, said the new system will be able to handle 900 pieces of luggage per hour compared with the current 480. It can be expanded to handle up to 1,200 pieces as the airport grows.

"The new baggage facility will also receive the most technologically baggage screening equipment available through YLW's partnership with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority," said Elchitz.

That will allow for the harmonization of security screening protocols between Canada and the United States, he added.

Construction of the baggage hall will start in the spring with completion in 2016.

Once that is finished, Elchitz said construction will then begin on airline offices, which are slated for completion in 2017.

Following that, construction will begin on modernization of the check-in counters and the terminal concourse.

That will be completed in 2018.

The apron expansion will begin in May of this year and will increase aircraft parking gates from eight to 10 planes.

Like the terminal, Elchitz said the apron is also at capacity.

"This will allow our air carriers increased flexibility and add frequency to their existing routes," said Elchitz.

Elchitz said the new configuration will also allow the airport to handle larger planes such as the Westjet Boeing 737-800 type aircraft and Air Canada Rouge's 319 Airbuses.

"And, we will actually be in a position to handle the larger Boeing 767 type aircraft and 787 Dreamliner."

As part of the apron expansion, Elchitz said the Glycol and Potassium Acetate facility which handles aircraft and runway de-icing tanks will be re-located to the south end of the airport.

The facility will handle double the capacity of de-icing solution and will be placed in an area near a possible southern expansion of the airport.

The departure lounge expansion will begin in June and is scheduled to be completed in three phases over a three-year span.

The west side of the lounge will be remodelled to include an ultra modern retail facility, which will include a wine bar and a seasonal fruit display that will feature local, seasonal fruit.

There will also be a new kids play area and two new food services – a second Tim Hortons and a Subway.

Outside, a new $5 million airport plaza will be constructed on the south side of the airport entrance road.

This will include an Esso gas station and two food outlets, which will be open this fall.

In 2016 a car wash/detailing bay will be constructed. It will include office and retail space.

That is expected to add between 35 and 40 full time jobs when it is completed next year.


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