A hotel could be built at Kelowna’s airport in five years.
Airport officials have already budgeted $32 million in 2024-25 to pay for a parkade and road changes that would be constructed at the same time as a hotel.
“A hotel right at the airport is increasingly viable because of the tremendous growth in passenger traffic,” YLW manager Sam Samaddar said Wednesday.
“Through a partnership with a hotel provider, it also makes economic sense to build a parkade at the same time,” he said.
Within two years, it’s likely airport officials will issue a request for proposals from hoteliers.
Eight of the nine Canadian airports that are busier than Kelowna’s already have hotels next to the terminal. The exception is Billy Bishop Airport, on an island offshore of downtown Toronto.
Current building costs associated with parkades are estimated at about $40,000 per stall, Samaddar said, so a $32-million budget could yield a structure with space for about 825 cars. But a new parkade at Vancouver’s airport is costing $60,000 per stall.
Currently, there are 2,600 parking spaces at YLW, with space often at a premium during busy flight times such as Christmas and Easter break.
Possible sites for a hotel and parkade are the existing long-term lot south of the terminal, or directly across from the main building on what is now the short-term parking lot.
As recently as three years ago, the prospect of a hotel at the airport was said to be not viable. But passenger traffic has soared from 1.7 million passengers in 2016 to 2.1 million in 2018.
By 2045, 3.5 million passengers are forecast.
There is one hotel near YLW — across Highway 97 in the Airport Business Park — and another under construction. The city recently turned down plans for a third hotel, saying the business park was intended to serve more industrial purposes.
If YLW strikes a partnership with a hotel provider, it would not likely sell the land needed to build the hotel. Instead, as is common elsewhere, the airport would create a concession relationship, with YLW getting a slice of the hotel’s business.
“We wouldn’t be getting into the hotel business directly,” Samaddar said.