Statement from Airport Director: Operations update and our commitment to the community

April 9, 2020
Public service announcement

During this continued time of uncertainty and rapid change, I understand the concern among the community regarding travel at Kelowna International Airport (YLW). YLW continues to support the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia as they implement necessary measures to make air travel as safe as possible and to limit the spread of COVID-19. We continue to monitor the situation closely and adapt our operations to follow direction from the Government of Canada and public health officials.

Our top priority is the safety of our employees, passengers and community, and we remain committed to sharing regular updates about how YLW is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stay home, if you can

The Federal Government and public health officials are advising people to stay home to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. If your travel is essential, please know that:

  • YLW is open and operating. Airports are considered an essential service and will remain open to provide critically important services in Canada, including repatriation flights, cargo operations and emergency services, such as life-saving medevac flights. We are here to receive and ship cargo in and out of B.C. including essential medical supplies and materials necessary to support frontline workers and businesses.
  • All international passengers arriving in B.C. must self-isolate at home for 14 days and complete a self-isolation plan. Plans must be reviewed by provincial government officials before travellers can return home. Travellers can submit an online or paper form before or on arrival back in B.C. Find out more about mandatory self-isolation and how to submit a self-isolation plan
  • If you are landing at YLW, arrange to have a friend or family member drop off a vehicle at the airport, if possible. Don’t go to the grocery store, instead have a friend drop off groceries before you arrive, or place an online order and get it delivered, and continue to do so during the 14 days of isolation.

Airlines have been directed by the Government of Canada to prevent all travellers who present symptoms of COVID-19 from boarding a plane when travelling internationally and within Canada. This includes a series of health questions and looking for visible signs of illness. If a passenger is observed to be ill when they are going through security screening, they will be asked to leave the checkpoint and return to their airline check-in counter for further assessment. If you are denied boarding, it will remain in effect for 14 days or until a medical note is provided that confirms the traveller’s symptoms are not related to COVID-19.

Air service

We are seeing a reduction in flights as airlines work to streamline their operations during this unprecedented time. Flight schedules are subject to change, but as of right now, the following commercial flights are operating at YLW:

  • One daily flight with Air Canada to Vancouver
  • Eight daily flights with WestJet to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton

All scheduled international flights at YLW have currently stopped operating. This includes flights to and from the Caribbean, Mexico and the United States. Alaska Airlines service to Seattle ended on April 9, 2020 as they reduced service across their flight network. All international passengers arriving in B.C. on commercial flights will land at Vancouver International Airport.

We’ve heard from the community that there are questions about why YLW was still accepting international flights, despite the Government of Canada restricting international travel to four airports. Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal are accepting inbound overseas international flights; however, flights from Mexico, the Caribbean and the U.S. are currently exempt, which is why YLW was accepting flights from the U.S. It’s important to know that only passengers who are travelling on essential service are permitted entry into Canada, and all international passengers arriving at Canadian airports undergo screening protocols by the Canada Border Services Agency as directed by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Commitment to transparency

We will continue to be transparent and share information about events impacting YLW. As such, we are sharing notifications we receive from the Public Health Agency of Canada and impacted airlines about passengers travelling through YLW who test positive for COVID-19. We are providing our utmost support to these agencies and are doing our part to help notify the community of potential exposure.

This information is changing rapidly and we are advising all recent travellers to visit BCCDC’s public exposures page for inbound and outbound flights in B.C. with a case of COVID-19 on board. If you have travelled to or from other parts of Canada, and are concerned about potential in-flight exposure, check the federal government website. WestJet is also sharing information about its specific flights with COVID-19 impacts

The situation is dynamic, and through this challenging time we are committed to working with the airlines, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and other partners to keep the community informed. 

Thank you to our employees

We could not provide essential services to the community and the province without the dedication of our frontline employees. Teams across the airport are working together to keep the airport operating and flights moving. To everyone at YLW who is working with the public, we thank you for your support during these taxing times.

We continue to focus our efforts on curbing the spread of the virus at YLW, and we have implemented a variety of measures including: enhanced sanitization throughout the terminal, keeping non-essential workers at home, installing physical distancing signage and floor decals and audio messages as a reminder to keep our distance from one another. 

We are all in this together, and our commitment remains ensuring the safety and well-being of our passengers, employees and broader community. Just as many of you are looking forward to travelling and visiting new destinations, we are working to ensure YLW is ready to link to the world once again, when it’s safe to do so.

For updates about COVID-19 and our response, please visit

Wishing you good health,

Sam Samaddar

Airport Director
Kelowna International Airport