I would like to take a moment to clear up some misconceptions outlined in Maureen Holms' Thumbs Up on Nov. 20.
Holms questions the need for YLW - Kelowna International Airport - to advertise as she wonders what other airport is there to choose from?
YLW is the primary international airport for B.C.'s Southern Interior; however a study conducted in 2010 found our primary and secondary catchment areas represents an air travel market of nearly two million air trips annually.
Approximately 25 per cent of this traffic is lost directly to passengers driving to the coast to use Vancouver Airport
(YVR) rather than flying out of YLW.
The advertisements strategically placed in Kelowna and around the Okanagan are targeted to an audience of approximately 440,000 people to reduce passenger "leakage" from those driving to Vancouver Airport (YVR) and beyond to catch flights, instead of flying from YLW.
When passengers choose to drive and fly from another airport, they are actually helping to support that airport's air access. They pay that airport's Airport Improvement Fee (AIF), which helps add to that airport's services and facilities; passenger numbers for that airport increase, which puts them at more of an advantage for expanding their air service, and the businesses supported by that airport reap the economic benefits.
When people choose to fly from YLW, these benefits apply to our own airport and the local economy of the Thompson Okanagan.
As our passenger traffic demand increases, it introduces competition into the marketplace that helps to keep air fares at a competitive rate. With better utilization of our air service the greater the opportunity is realized to expand to new destinations.
In an independent survey last year, YLW was recognized by Cheapflights.ca in their ranking of the 20 most popular Canadian and U.S. border airports based on their affordability. Cheapflights.ca compiled the list by computing the average airfare users found on their site from each airport to the most popular domestic and international destinations.
YLW was ranked as the fourth most affordable airport along the 49th parallel and Canada's most affordable airport for the consumer.
YLW is the largest municipally operated airport in Canada as it relates to passenger traffic and is not funded by taxpayer dollars. The revenues generated from airport users and operations are invested back into the airport.
As a consequence, the airport not only needs to generate new revenue sources but also protect the financial revenue streams it has today like any other business.
When we advertise, we also promote our partnership with our key business partners - the airlines. Many of our advertising and promotions involving vacation getaways are supported and funded by the airlines involved.
If airlines are filling seats on flights from YLW, they will continue to add more flights to more destinations, benefiting passengers through the region.
YLW is a major contributor to the British Columbia economy and plays a key role in facilitating the growth of trade and tourism between B.C., the rest of Canada and the world by providing vital air links.
As YLW continues to grow, it is an economic benefit to the entire Thompson Okanagan region, and our advertising is a crucial factor in this growth, making YLW "Your Link to the World."