Kelowna airport

The federal government says the resumption of international flights at Kelowna's airport, the country's 10th busiest in 2019, will be announced 'in due course'. Canada's nine busiest airports, as well as one in Quebec City outside the top 10 list, have been allowed to resume international connections.

Many factors are being considered before federal authorization is given for the relaunch of international flights at Kelowna's airport, Transport Canada says.

Nine of the country's 10 busiest airports as measured by pre-pandemic passenger counts have been permitted to resume international flights.

Kelowna's airport was the 10th busiest in 2019. One airport that was outside the top ten list, Jean Lesage Airport in Quebec City, has been permitted to resume international flights.

"Consideration will be given to adding additional airports in the future as conditions dictate; that is: based on demand, operational capacity, the epidemiological situation in Canada and recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canada Border Services Agency," Transport Canada spokesperson Sau Sau Liu wrote in an email.

"Any changes would be announced in due course," Liu wrote.

Sam Samaddar, manager of Kelowna's airport, says he has been given no indication when international flights will be allowed to resume at YLW.

Last week, Kelowna-Lake Conservative MP Tracy Gray and Kelowna chamber of commerce manager Dan Rogers criticized the federal government's delay in permitting international flights to begin again at YLW.

The continuing ban on international flights at YLW is putting Kelowna and the B.C. Interior at a competitive disadvantage in terms of the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Rogers said.

"It astounds us that YLW is not open to international travel when other airports across the country with less passenger traffic have been given the green light by Transport Canada," Rogers said.

In a normal fall and winter, about 20% of all passenger traffic at YLW is accounted for by international flights to destinations such as Arizona, Nevada, Seattle, Mexico, and Cuba.