Air Canada will reduce the number of weekly non-stop flights between Kamloops and Toronto this year on its low-cost Rouge airline.
Last year, the service launched with three flights per week between Kamloops and Toronto between June and October. This year, there will be be one flight per week when the service begins in July.
Last year, non-stop flights to Toronto took off on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This year, the weekly flight will leave each Thursday.
Kamloops Airport managing director Ed Ratuski said travellers flying from Toronto to Kamloops did not stay, instead taking advantage of low-cost fares and continuing to Vancouver.
“That was the primary driver,” Ratuski said, noting the Thursday route was operating “fairly full” during the week, which is why that route returned. Flights must be booked at more than 80 per cent occupancy to be considered successful.
Ratuski said the airport will continue to promote the Toronto flight, in collaboration with Tourism Kamloops and Tourism Sun Peaks, to ensure the lone flight remains successful.
Air Canada also recently reduced its frequency of flights between Kamloops and Vancouver, swapping out aircraft for larger planes, but cutting the number of flights in the process.
The Kamloops-to-Vancouver trip runs four times a day with 312 seats in the sky — a 25 per cent increase in capacity, according to the airline, but a 20 per cent reduction in the number of daily flights as Air Canada had flown between Kamloops and Vancouver five times a day.
Asked about Air Canada’s continued reduction of flights out of Kamloops Airport, Ratuski said the airline is maximizing the use of its fleet, noting airport numbers continue to rise.
Last year, the airport reported record numbers of passengers. Through the first quarter of 2019, the airport saw a 10 per cent increase over 2018’s first quarter in terms of passenger numbers.
“We would certainly like to see that additional frequency to Vancouver later in the evening, so we’re constantly working with Air Canada to bump up those numbers,” Ratuski said.
Meanwhile, due to regulatory requirements and in response to additional passengers and larger aircraft, the airport will beef up it aircraft firefighting unit by the end of the year. Ratuski added that while some airports saw reductions in response to Boeing Max 8 aircraft being grounded following two crashes, Kamloops has not felt such impacts.