Kamloops Airport is reporting an eight per cent increase in passenger numbers in the first half of the year over the same time last year, in addition to the return of a fifth daily Vancouver flight beginning this fall.
Kamloops Airport managing director Ed Ratuski attributed the passenger spike to air carriers — WestJet, Air Canada and Central Mountain Air — growing consistently from between six and 10 per cent month over month.
“That’s a reflection of a lot of leisure travel, a lot of tourism travel during the winter and, generally, just people taking advantage of the services out of Kamloops,” Ratuski said.
Passenger numbers to the end of June totalled 185,226, compared to 170,311 through June of 2018. Asked of the impacts, Ratuski said the busier the airport gets, the larger the aircraft and frequency of flights.
“It’s just an indicator that the community is responding to the air services and that the airlines are meeting their needs,” he said.
Kamloops Airport meets with airlines regularly to re-evaluate community needs. Hard data from where passengers are travelling and making connections is presented to the airlines, with airport officials pitching profitable routes. From there, it’s up to the airlines to decide.
Air Canada apparently sees a business case for amping up flights between Kamloops and Vancouver. The airline will be re-introducing a fifth daily fight in that route in October.
Canada’s largest airline announced this past February it would be upgrading its planes at Kamloops Airport to boost capacity on regional routes around Western Canada this summer. However, in deploying more of its Bombardier Q-400 aircraft, it also decreased the number of flights between Kamloops and Vancouver, to four from five per day.
“We were anxious to see re-introduction of another frequency to Vancouver, which Air Canada has responded to,” Ratuski said.
Looking to the future, he would like to see Edmonton and Seattle flights also return to Kamloops Airport. Kamloops previously had a flight to Edmonton, but it was cancelled amidst tumultuous times in the oil industry. Additionally, Ratuski said, a previous Kamloops-Seattle flight — which benefits Sun Peaks Resort — was viable prior to the financial crisis of the mid-2000s.
Asked if the impressive numbers will continue through the remainder of 2019, Ratuski said the trends look good going forward.
“The more people who make use of the services that are available here, we have a positive outlook continuing on into 2020,” he said.
Ratuski encouraged Kamloops residents to take advantage of the Kamloops to Toronto flight, which leaves for Hogtown every Thursday afternoon until the end of August.