Kelowna Airport Guide
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Your Complete Guide to Kelowna Airport

Kelowna Airport is one of the busiest in Canada, handling over a million passengers per annum, and is a gateway to one of the most peaceful and beautiful cities in the country. The area is well known for its spectacular vineyards and wineries, as well as its ski resorts, which draw in thousands of tourists every winter. The airport is well equipped to handle its visitors, and is a modern establishment. It is recognized by its IATA code of YLW, and its ICAO code of CYLW. Kelowna can also be easily reached from the airport by a couple of forms of ground transportation.

Kelowna is a city in the province of British Columbia, and is the largest inland city of the region. It is found in the heart of the Okanagan Valley, and alongside the famous Okanagan Lake, which is well loved by local residents and visitors for swimming and boating activities. The city is about 400km northeast of Vancouver, and is to the southeast of Kamloops. It is also approximately 150km north of the border between Canada and the United States of America. The border runs between British Columbia and the state of Washington. The airport of the city is located approximately 11.5km, or 7.1 miles northeast of central Kelowna, and is nearby to a couple of golf clubs and regional parks, including the Shadow Ridge Golf Club, the Okanagan Golf Club and the Stephens Coyote Ridge Regional Park. The Okanagan Lake is to the west of Kelowna airport, and Vernon is found to the north, just past Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake. To the south of Kelowna are the areas of Summerland, Penticton and Okanagan Falls.

The airport of Kelowna is served by several well known airline companies, and operates approximately 62 non-stop commercial flight services per day. Air Canada and WestJet are two of the main airline carriers found at the airport, and their flights mainly reach other Canadian cities, however, WestJet also serves the international destinations of Cancun and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, and Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix in the United States. The local destinations by these two carriers include Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Nanaimo, Hamilton, Ottawa, Regina, Winnipeg, Victoria, Prince George and Saskatoon. Further domestic flights are offered by Central Mountain Air to Kamloops and Prince George, and by Northwestern Air to Red Deer. Alaska Airlines and United Airlines are international carriers serving Seattle and Los Angeles.

Kelowna Airport’s history began in 1946, when its land was purchased. The first ‘airport’ here was known as Ellison Field, and consisted of a small terminal and a grass runway of around 3.000 feet in length. The Ellison Field opened for operation in 1947. In the next twenty years the airport (or field) underwent improvements that included turning the original grass-strip runway to gravel, paving the parking lot and aircraft apron, extension of the runway from 3,000 feet to 5,350 feet and the expansion of the taxiway and apron. In 1958, daily, scheduled services where made available to Vancouver by Canadian Pacific Airlines. It was clear by the early 1960’s that the airport would require a new terminal building, as the demand for air services was increasing. The new terminal was then constructed at the south end of the runway. However, it did not remain adequate in size for long, as extensions to the building were carried out in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Towards the close of the twentieth century, Kelowna Airport was handling more than 800,000 passengers per annum, and was regarded as one of the fastest growing airports in North America. In 1998 another major expansion program was put into action, and the terminal building was doubled in size to cover a surface area of 76,000 square feet. Further parking spaces were also added, and further space was allocated on the airside of the airport for additional aircraft. This was a $20 million expansion program.

Today the airport has a capacity to handle between 400 and 450 passengers per hour, and its current passenger traffic is recorded at approximately 1.39 million per annum. The single terminal building has eight aircraft loading positions, all of which are fitted with jet bridges, and three baggage reclaim carousels in the arrivals area. One of the belts can also be exclusively use for international passenger arrivals. Within the terminal passengers can find all the amenities that can be expected at airport the size of Kelowna. There are shops and restaurants on the landside and secure side of the building. Food and beverage services are offered by Tim Hortons, the WhiteSpot Legends restaurant and the Skyway Café and Bar. In the departure lounge, there are duty-free products available from ‘Gifts of the Okanagan’, shoe shine services by ‘Happy and Grateful’ and fine wines from the Okanagan Estate Wine Cellar. The wines can be purchased in various quantities, depending on your destination, and may be carried as hand luggage. Prices of the wines are also the same as those charged by the wineries of the region. A popular place to shop in the main terminal building is the Skyway News and $15 Store, with many items of interest for just $15.00.

For business travellers, Kelowna Airport has a board room which can be hired, and a business centre that is found in the departure lounge. The centre is equipped with private work stations with internet accessible payphones and a group discussion table. The airport is also completely adapted for the needs of disabled travellers, with automatic doors, covered loading bridges, accessible washrooms, elevators and ramped walkways. In the two parking lots there are also spaces for handicapped drivers. One parking lot is ideal for short-term parking and the other is more affordable for long-term parking. A few parking spaces are also available alongside the terminal, and may be used for up to thirty minutes. Passengers will travel to the airport on Highway 97, or they can use public bus transport, private shuttle services or a taxi. For arriving passengers, there are several car hire companies nearby to the baggage claim area.

Kelowna International Airport is currently implementing various renovations and expansions in order to be fully equipped for future years, and the increase of passengers that is to be expected. As part of the project, the runway was recently lengthened, and is currently being overhauled (receiving new paving treatments). By 2015 Kelowna airport is expected to be handling 1.6 million passengers per annum, and by this time, the terminal will be expanded to comfortably accommodate 680 passengers per hour. As part of the expansion, a new international arrivals hall will be built. It is currently underway, and should be completed by the fall of 2012. By 2025, the terminal building will be almost double its current size, and capable of handling up to 900 passengers per hour.

All further details regarding Kelowna Airport can be obtained by contacting the Airport Administration Office, at 250-765-5125.