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Kelowna International Airport

Kelowna International Airport

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Kelowna International Airport is a Canadian airport
An airport is a location where aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and blimps take off and land. Aircraft may be stored or maintained at an airport...

 located approximately 10 minutes or 6.2 NM northeast of Kelowna
Kelowna is a city on Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley, in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. Its name derives from a Okanagan language term for "grizzly bear"...

, British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, on Highway 97.

The single runway airport operates scheduled air service to the major hub airports of Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

, Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Calgary
Calgary is a city in the Province of Alberta, Canada. It is located in the south of the province, in an area of foothills and prairie, approximately east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies...

, Edmonton
Edmonton is the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta and is the province's second-largest city. Edmonton is located on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Capital Region, which is surrounded by the central region of the province.The city and its census...

, Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

, Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of about 78,000 within the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria, which has a population of 360,063, the 15th most populous Canadian...

, and Seattle, as well as less frequent seasonal service to Cancún
Cancún is a city of international tourism development certified by the UNWTO . Located on the northeast coast of Quintana Roo in southern Mexico, more than 1,700 km from Mexico City, the Project began operations in 1974 as Integrally Planned Center, a pioneer of FONATUR Cancún is a city of...

, Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican balneario resort city situated on the Pacific Ocean's Bahía de Banderas.The 2010 census reported Puerto Vallarta's population as 255,725 making it the sixth-largest city in the state of Jalisco...

, Los Cabos
Los Cabos
Los Cabos is a municipality located at the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula, in the state of Baja California Sur. It encompasses the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo , as well as the Resort Corridor that lies between the two...

, and Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

. Currently, the airport handles up to 36 commercial departures a day, or approximately 210 departures per week.

In 2010, the airport was among the busiest airports in Canada by number of passengers with 1,391,725, representing a 1.8% increase over 2009.


Kelowna International Airport's official history took off in 1946, when Kelowna residents voted 466 to 460 in favour of purchasing the 320 acres (1.3 km²) Dickson Ranch in Ellison for $20,000. In 1947, the grand opening of "Ellison Field" showcased a small terminal
Airport terminal
An airport terminal is a building at an airport where passengers transfer between ground transportation and the facilities that allow them to board and disembark from aircraft....

 building, a 3000 ft (914 m) grass runway
According to ICAO a runway is a "defined rectangular area on a land aerodrome prepared for the landing and take-off of aircraft." Runways may be a man-made surface or a natural surface .- Orientation and dimensions :Runways are named by a number between 01 and 36, which is generally one tenth...

, and a variety of small aircraft.

During the 1950s, increasing demand for better service prompted the federal Department of Transport
Transport Canada
Transport Canada is the department within the government of Canada which is responsible for developing regulations, policies and services of transportation in Canada. It is part of the Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities portfolio...

 to help gravel
Gravel is composed of unconsolidated rock fragments that have a general particle size range and include size classes from granule- to boulder-sized fragments. Gravel can be sub-categorized into granule and cobble...

 the airstrip and pave the parking lot and aircraft parking apron. In 1958, Canadian Pacific Airlines
Canadian Pacific Airlines
Canadian Pacific Air Lines was a Canadian airline that operated from 1942 to 1987. It operated under the name CP Air from 1968 to 1986...

 introduced daily, scheduled Douglas DC-3
Douglas DC-3
The Douglas DC-3 is an American fixed-wing propeller-driven aircraft whose speed and range revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting impact on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made...

 service to Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

, which enabled the City to initiate negotiations with the federal government for a longer, paved airstrip.

After buying the land needed for expansion, in 1960 the City extended and paved the runway to 5350 ft (1,630.7 m) and expanded the taxiway and apron. Then Mayor Dick Parkinson, an avid supporter of aviation and its economic benefits to the Okanagan, spearheaded the $312,000 upgrade.

Increasing aircraft and passenger movements during the early 1960s prompted local leaders to seek community support and funding for construction of a new Air Terminal Building at the south end of the runway. The original air traffic control tower
Control tower
A control tower, or more specifically an Air Traffic Control Tower , is the name of the airport building from which the air traffic control unit controls the movement of aircraft on and around the airport. Control towers are also used to control the traffic for other forms of transportation such...

 was built on the flat deck of a truck.

The early 1970s marked the introduction of an air traffic control tower and an on-site weather office. In 1975, a Track Guidance Localizer was installed to reduce poor weather operating limits and improve flight reliability.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, more than $10 million was invested in upgrading the terminal building, runway, and airlines operating facilities. Increasing passenger and cargo volumes spawned growth in the airport's commercial sector. New businesses located on airport property and helped establish Kelowna as a serious contender in the aviation industry.

By 1997, annual passenger volumes had risen to more than 800,000, making it one of the fastest-growing airports in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. To prepare for anticipated volumes of one million by 2011, the City of Kelowna embarked on a $20-million expansion program in 1998. The terminal building was doubled in size to 76000 sq ft (7,060.6 m²), parking was increased to more than 1,200 paved stalls, and airside facilities were expanded to accommodate additional aircraft. These upgrades tripled the number the passengers the airport can service from 150 to 450 per hour. The project was funded by a $5 Airport Improvement Fee charged departing passengers.

In 2005, YLW surpassed 1,000,000 passengers for the first time in its history, recording a total of 1,070,171 passengers. This trend is expected to continue, as Kelowna International Airport is Canada's and one of North America's fastest growing airports.

Terminal facilities

Today, the recently expanded main terminal building is a modern, full-service facility covering approximately 76000 sq ft (7,060.6 m²). There are 8 aircraft loading positions, all of which are fitted with jet bridges. The arrivals area contains three baggage belts, one of which can be cordoned off to accommodate US arrivals and Canadian Customs processing.

Several food and beverage services, including Tim Horton's and White Spot Legends restaurant, newsstands, and tourist-related retail stores, in addition to a limited selection of duty-free goods, can be found throughout the terminal. The departure lounge features a wired business centre. The airport's focal point is a glass rotunda which contains a fountain and the cylindrical glass sculpture "Escape from Stella Polaris". A small observation area is located on the mezzanine level.

Future expansion

In 2006, the Kelowna International Airport Advisory Committee created the Master Plan 2025, a document dedicated to the expansion of the Kelowna International Airport. The Plan is expected to cost approximately $150 million. Due to YLW's unprecedented growth, a Master Plan was required to aid in keeping the airport at modern traffic handling standards. By 2008, the airport lengthened the single runway to 8900 ft (2,712.7 m), and plans to lengthen to 10000 ft (3,048 m) by 2025. Also, there are plans for the passenger terminal to be expanded so as to allow hourly processing of 680 passengers by 2015, and 900 passengers by 2025. Currently, the hourly rate is approximately 400 passengers. In order to do this, the terminal size will be nearly doubled, and a 2,400 space parkade will be constructed. Also, to reduce vehicular traffic congestion, a diamond overpass/underpass interchange will be constructed at the current intersection of Highway 97 and Airport Way.

The airport's first project from this plan, which began February 2008, extended the runway from 7300 foot and was completed on time and on budget at a cost of $8 million. Federal and Provincial government partners each contributed $1.35 million while the City of Kelowna committed $5.3 million from Airport Improvement Fees. The airport hopes to lure long-haul non-stop charter flights from Europe.

Scheduled services

Kelowna International Airport offers service to 6 domestic destinations (within Canada) and 5 international destinations (U.S. and Mexico) which make up a total of 11 destinations.

Charter services

Incidents and accidents

The following accidents occurred either at the airport, or involved aircraft using the airport:
  • July 14, 1986: Pacific Western Airlines
    Pacific Western Airlines
    Pacific Western Airlines was an airline that operated scheduled flights throughout western Canada and charter services around the world from the 1950s through the 1980s...

     Flight 117, a Boeing 737-200 flying from Calgary International Airport
    Calgary International Airport
    Calgary International Airport, , is the international airport that serves Calgary, Alberta, Canada and the surrounding region; it is situated approximately northeast of downtown Calgary...

     to Vancouver International Airport
    Vancouver International Airport
    Vancouver International Airport is located on Sea Island in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, about from Downtown Vancouver. In 2010 it was the second busiest airport in Canada by aircraft movements and passengers , behind Toronto Pearson International Airport, with non-stop flights daily to...

     with a stop in Kelowna, left the runway while landing in Kelowna and came to rest approximately 1300 ft (396.2 m) beyond the end of the runway. No fatalities or serious injuries were reported, however, 5 crew members and 76 passengers suffered minor injuries.
  • February 4, 2009: At 10:40 a.m., a two-seat Cessna 152 coming from Salmon Arm crash-landed on Kelowna Airports main runway. The two passengers on board were uninjured.

External links