A direct daily flight between the Okanagan and Los Angeles is no longer a case of California dreamin’.
United Airlines, through its United Express offshoot, has started its long-awaited, new year-round daily service between Kelowna and Southern California.
The schedule calls for flights will arrive from L.A. at 10 p.m., having left around 6:30 p.m., from LAX and depart for Los Angeles from Kelowna at 8 a.m. the next morning.
LAX is the sixth busiest airport in the world and the third busiest in the U.S.
LAX becomes the second U.S. hub airport with daily service to and from Kelonwa, joining Seattle’s SeaTac airport. There is also seasonal service with to and from Las Vegas and Phoenix.
The local airport is believed to be now be eying direct regular service to and from San Francisco.
Airport director Sam Samaddar said the introduction of the daily flights between L.A. and Kelowna represent a huge economic impact to this region.
“On average, each daily flight to L.A. provides 16 person years of employment and $1 million in wages annually,” he said.
“As the airport continues to provide air service to more destinations, the ripple effect of the economic benefit will be felt from Osoyoos to Sun Peaks to Revelstoke.”
Anthony Lewis, of Vibrant Vines Vineyard in Kelowna, believes the new United daily flights will present benefits to the business community in the Okanagan.
“The Vibrant Vine is a strong believer in that the whole is greater than the sum,” said Lewis.
“Together we should focus on building and strengthening relationships within the wine, ski and golf industries. The only thing that can stand in the way of reviving an ongoing flood of Los Angeles tourists is if we don’t work together and properly market and package our products in a way that makes it easy to experience all that our amazing area has to offer.”
Kelowna International Airport is the ninth busiest in Canada, and has a total economic impact that includes 2,730 jobs and $610 million in total economic output to the province.
Serving 1.4 million passengers in 2011, YLW offers 64 daily non-stop commercial flights by Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Central Mountain Air, Northwestern Air, WestJet and United Airlines to Vancouver, Victoria, Prince George, Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Toronto, Seattle, and now Los Angeles,
There is also seasonal service to Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, and Cancun; and sun destination charter services by Transat Holidays and Sunwing to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos.