Statement from the Airport Director: COVID-19 travel restrictions and air service at YLW

June 9, 2020
Public service announcement

I want to start by taking the time to recognize those who work in the tourism and travel industries. Whether you work in a hotel or a restaurant, are helping connect visitors to experiences throughout the region or for an airline or at the airport—your contributions to the tourism sector help strengthen the local economy and enrich the quality of life for residents across the Okanagan. I also want to extend a thank you to the frontline and administration staff who are continuing to work to keep the airport open during these difficult times.

Much like many businesses in the Okanagan and in the tourism sector, YLW was hit hard by the ongoing global COVID-19 health crisis and we will be one of the last sectors to fully recover. In April and May, our passenger numbers dropped by 96 per cent, and while we expect it will take several years for YLW and other airports across Canada to recover, we’re getting ready now so we can welcome travellers back when the time comes.

As always, the safety of employees, passengers and the greater community is our top priority. We know you have questions about air travel and what the future may look like. The situation with COVID-19 is evolving, but this is what we know right now:

Air service at YLW

The airport remains open and is operating for domestic travel. In June and July, Central Mountain Air, Flair Airlines and Pacific Coastal Airlines will resume operations at YLW to Victoria, Prince George, Calgary and Edmonton. As provinces slowly start to reopen, we hope to see additional destinations and increased frequency on these routes as airlines adjust their networks and schedules. For more information on flight schedules and to book, please contact the airline directly.

  • Air Canada is currently operating flights to Vancouver twice per day.
  • Central Mountain Air will resume operations on July 6 with flights to Prince George three times per week.
  • Flair Airlines has recently announced it will resume operations on July 16 with flights to Calgary and Edmonton.
  • Pacific Coastal Airlines resumed service June 1 with flights to Cranbrook and Victoria three times per week. Additional service to Victoria is expected to begin on June 28 to connect YLW to Victoria six times per week.
  • WestJet is currently operating two flights per day to Calgary and Vancouver.
  • Ebus resumed bus service in B.C. beginning on June 4. The Ebus kiosk has now re-opened inside the Terminal. Currently, bus service has scheduled stops at YLW four times per week.

Health checks and masks

The Government of Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada have implemented new requirements for air travellers to limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • All passengers travelling by air must have a removable non-medical mask or face covering large enough to cover their mouth and nose during portions of their travel through Canadian airports and in-flight. More information about the regulation, including exceptions where face coverings must not be worn, is available on the Transport Canada website here.
  • All travellers are subject to a health check before they board an aircraft and anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to travel. Health checks may be administered by an airline employee at the check-in counter or the boarding gates.
  • Any traveller presenting symptoms of COVID-19 will be denied boarding for 14 days or until a medical certificate is presented that confirms symptoms are unrelated to COVID-19. Please contact the Public Health Agency of Canada at 1-833-784-4397 with any questions.
  • All Canadians returning to B.C. from international destinations must self-isolate for 14 days and submit a self-isolation plan for approval prior to arriving in Canada. More information is available on the Province of BC website.
  • Airlines have adapted their operations to respond to COVID-19 by implementing additional measures on aircraft. Contact your airline directly for more information.

Be ready for travel

As masks or face coverings are mandatory during portions of your journey, we are encouraging all travellers to make or purchase a mask or face covering and bring it with them to the airport. Masks may be available for purchase at YLW; however, supplies may be limited. We are working diligently to keep masks, hand sanitizer and wipes in stock for travellers who wish to purchase these items in the Terminal.

Passengers are advised to check-in for their flight before coming to the airport to limit the number of contact points in the Terminal. Please arrive 90 minutes prior to boarding a domestic flight.

The Long-Term parking lot remains closed until further notice; however, the Short-Term parking lot remains open and long-term parking rates will apply. 

Safety measures

When you arrive at YLW, you may notice some changes in the Terminal. We’ve implemented several safety measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • enhanced cleaning and sanitization of high-touch areas, such as electronic check-in kiosks, luggage carts, railings and seating areas as well as in the washrooms
  • installed plexiglass barriers at all airline check-in counters and boarding gates
  • added more hand sanitizer stations throughout the Terminal and are refilling them regularly
  • installed new physical distancing floor decals to remind passengers to keep 2 metres away from others
  • reconfigured seating in the Departures Lounge to promote physical distancing
  • adjusted traffic flow throughout the Terminal to ensure one-way traffic areas

Restarting tourism and travel

As Canada begins implementing plans to slowly and methodically reopen the economy, Canada’s tourism and travel sector is working to develop a coordinated restart plan. This process will involve working closely with Transport Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and the Public Health Agency of Canada to establish clear and consistent health standards and protocols. We recognize that a balanced and coordinated approach is necessary to protect the public as we battle COVID-19.

We know many of you are contemplating travel this summer, but are uncertain about quarantine rules, border restrictions, travel advisories, and what the rules are for airports, hotels and on airplanes. We are committed to providing clear guidance to travellers and keeping you informed of changes that impact travel at YLW. For information and updates, visit ylw.kelowna.ca or our Twitter page for updates. 

We can't wait to welcome you back to YLW when it's time to explore the world again.

Wishing you health and safe travels.

Sam Samaddar
Airport Director
Kelowna International Airport