After sitting fairly empty for the large part of the last two years, Kelowna International Airport is becoming busy once again.
“We’re definitely seeing things pick up,” airport director Sam Samaddar said on Friday. “We’re expecting about 3,300 passengers outbound today, so about 6,600 in total; inbound and outbound of the airport.”
The increase in passenger volume is largely associated with the start of spring break.
“Certainly this is one of our busiest days since COVID started,” Samaddar told Global News. “It’s very, very positive.”
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Marilee Welch, her husband and two children are among those traveling this spring break, something they haven’t done in a while.
“We haven’t been on a family trip in two years,” she said. “So we’re due for a trip.”
The family said they were determined to get away despite some of the ongoing protocols related to the pandemic.
“It brought a lot of anxiety. Last night, we were doing all the testing kits, making sure we didn’t touch anything. So it’s actually another layer to go on a trip, but we’ve been waiting so long that we just needed to do it,” Welch said.
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The pandemic brought the air travel industry to a screeching halt in the spring of 2020.
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“You know, our industry has gone through some very, very difficult times over the last few years,” Samaddar said. “We lost 97 per cent of our traffic.”
Now, though, demand for air travel is growing tremendously with travel restrictions having been eased.
“Some of the airlines I was talking to this morning said they’re seeing people booked right now to travel tomorrow for example,” said Samaddar. “So they’re seeing people just want to get out.”
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The pent-up demand is prompting airlines to adjust.
“As we get into spring and summer, the number of seats that we’ll have available out of Kelowna will be higher than what we had pre-pandemic,” said Samaddar.
Samaddar is also reminding the public that despite some travel restrictions loosening, there are still a number of protocols in place that travelers must be aware of.
“It’s really important to understand where you’re going and understand what the testing requirements are for your destination because it could be very different,” he said.
“For example, going to the US right now, you still require an antigen test within 24 hours of travel.
“The other piece is vaccine. You require proof of vaccination, whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally. It doesn’t matter.”
You can find more information on the requirements of air travel by going to the Kelowna International Airport website.
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