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Direct international flights among potential changes coming to YLW

KELOWNA – Talk of expansion took centre stage at Kelowna International Airport (YLW) Saturday (Feb 27) as people flocked to let YLW know their ideas for travel improvement.

Airport planners laid out their initial blueprints for the next 30 years for YLW, giving travelers a chance to give feedback- positive and negative.

The new plans include improvements to the main terminal, lengthening of the runway, and more parking areas.

Sam Samaddar, who is the Airport Director, says growth is instrumental to YLW’s success.

“We’ve presented very preliminary drafts of what we think are the very hot issues and now we’re looking for people’s ideas of where they see the airport going,” he said. “We know we have to expand at some point.”

Another big issue discussed at the open house was international flights. Though YLW doesn’t currently offer any overseas getaways, Samaddar says flying internationally is on the to-do list. That part of the expansion can’t get done, however, without a bigger runway.

“We have long made it known that we want to get intercontinental reach [and that] we want to get service to Europe, so the runway length becomes very important.”

YLW purchased Shadow Ridge Golf Club last month and that land is expected to play a large part in the future of direct international travel from the Okanagan.

Expansion has been a hot topic for years as the airport traffic continues to grow and the population of Kelowna increases. It is estimated that in the next 20 years, the number of passengers will more than double.

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