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Fort McMurray flights to be cut

WestJet is to suspend direct flights between Kelowna International Airport (YLW) and Fort McMurray (YMM), effective Feb. 15.

The direct service has seen a significant decrease in passengers over the last year, according to the Kelowna airport’s website.

The service relies heavily on commuting workers, and the economic downturn in the oil industry has created less demand for air travel within the sector.

“We’re hopeful that this service will be reinstated once the economy shifts and demand for the service returns,” said Sam Samaddar, airport director. “Kelowna passengers will continue to be able to fly to Fort McMurray via connections in Calgary, Edmonton or Vancouver.”

WestJet spokesperson Robert Palmer said the service operates five times a week.

“From time-to-time we make adjustments to our network schedule for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are economic in nature,” Palmer said. “In this case, everyone is acutely aware that the energy sector is undergoing extremely challenging times and demand for this service has, understandably, declined.

“It is our hope that we will be able to reinstate the service when demand returns to more viable levels.”

WestJet is adding increased service from Kelowna to Victoria International Airport (YYJ), beginning the same day as the route stoppage to Fort McMurray.

The additional flight will operate twice a day, seven days a week.

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