YLW releases total passenger numbers for 2020

January 14, 2021
News release

Kelowna International Airport (YLW) has released its final passenger numbers for 2020, with figures showing more than 700,000 passengers travelled through the airport last year.

In 2020, passengers totalled 737,447, a 64 per cent decrease or 1,294,572 fewer passengers than in 2019 -- passenger levels not seen since 1997. YLW remains optimistic that travellers will return to the skies in the future when it’s safe to do so; however, the airport does not expect to see pre-pandemic passenger numbers return until 2024, at the earliest.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Canadian airports and the aviation and tourism industries,” said Sam Samaddar, Airport Director. “Our focus for 2021 remains on a healthy and safe travel experience for everyone at YLW and ensuring the airport can continue to operate for essential services despite a significant loss in revenue.”

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on YLW in 2020 was significant. Between 2016 and 2018, YLW experienced unprecedented passenger growth, mainly driven by expanded air service and flight connectivity, population growth, and economic activity in the region.  Early in 2020, YLW had projected to reach 2.25 million passengers by 2025. But by April 2020, YLW’s 47 daily flights to 14 destinations had been reduced to nine daily flights to eight destinations.

As an essential service, YLW remains open to provide access to commercial flights in our region, whether it is to connect patients to necessary medical care or for essential travel for work. Airports also provide important services in Canada, including emergency services and medivacs that help protect the public, and cargo operations to supply businesses and frontline workers.

In 2021, YLW will remain focused on keeping operating costs low to ensure the airport is in a good financial position to take part in the recovery from COVID-19. YLW will also continue to identify new potential revenue streams through strategic development that can be reinvested back into the airport. By investing in development of airport lands, YLW will help create jobs, directly impacting our local economy.

For more information about annual passenger numbers at YLW, visit ylw.kelowna.ca/facts