MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country calling on federal government to reopen Kelowna airport to international travel

MLA: reopen YLW airport

The MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country is calling on the federal government to open YLW airport to international travel.

Norm Letnick addressed the legislature on Tuesday, saying COVID-19 has had a “tremendous impact” on Kelowna International Airport.

“At Kelowna International Airport, air service in 2020 and most of 2021 has been down by more than 90 per cent,” Letnick said.

“Airlines who have scheduled international flights through Kelowna International Airport are already at a point where they are cancelling routes, and will need to continue to cancel routes if we do not receive confirmation of YLW’s international status reopening.”

The airport has been closed to international travel since spring of 2020 due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Letnick said the value of Kelowna International Airport “truly cannot be understated,” saying the Okanagan wouldn’t be the same as it is today without the travel hub.

He said prior to the pandemic, the airport supported 4,500 jobs and produced $789 million in total economic input to the province while helping communities stay connected.

Letnick said he hoped his statement would serve as a call to action for house members to convince the federal government to reinstate international status to the airport as soon as possible.

Earlier this month, Tracy Gray, MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, said she had written to the Transport Ministry asking why YLW is not open, and which metrics are being used to determine when international travel can resume.

“Despite being one of the Top 10 busiest airports by passenger volume in Canada, the government has refused to reopen the airport to international travel, while at the same time reopening less busy airports,” Gray said.

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