Kelowna International Airport has set records for growth so far in 2014.

Kelowna International Airport has set records for growth so far in 2014.

Record growth at YLW

The airport’s drive to 1.6 million passengers per year is a full 12 months ahead of schedule

  • Apr. 11, 2014 4:00 p.m.

ALISTAIR WATERS

Black Press

Success, it would seem, is coming early for Kelowna International Airport.

The airport’s drive to 1.6 million passengers per year is a full 12 months ahead of schedule thanks to 15 straight months of record-breaking growth.

As was the case every month in 2013, YLW has set records for growth in the first three months of this year, including a surprising six per cent jump in January followed by an even more surprising eight per cent increase in February. Last month, YLW was 8,000 passengers ahead of the number it handled in March 2013.

“We were really surprised,” said airport marketing and media relations co-ordinator Jenelle Hynes.

“When I saw the numbers for January, I said we should go back and check again.”

She said she was even more surprised when February’s numbers came in even stronger.

“That is huge growth.”

January saw an increase over the same month last year of 7,600 passengers while February saw an jump of 10,655 passengers.

It’s overall 4.11 per cent growth in 2013 was amongst the highest for any Canadian airport handling more than one million passengers and well ahead of much larger airports, such as Vancouver International and Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International, Toronto’s Pearson International, Ottawa, Halifax and Winnipeg .

YLW which set up a phased, multi-million dollar plan to increase and improve its infrastructure over four years starting in 2011 in anticipation of reaching 1.6 million passengers per year in 2015, is now a year ahead of schedule in term of passenger numbers.

This year, the airport plans to spend $5 million relocating a loading bridge, renovating washrooms in the arrivals hall, expanding the airside apron for planes and upgrading departure lounge concessions. It has already build a new international arrivals hall and completed several other improvement projects to help move passengers through the terminal faster.

One of the major infrastructure projects yet to be completed is an improvement to the baggage handling and delivery system at the airport, including new baggage carousels.

In 2013, the airport saw just over 1.5 million passengers use the terminal, a figure it had not expected to reach until late this year.

The airport is now the 10th busiest in Canada, just behind Victoria and well ahead of St. John’s in Newfoundland.