Despite Kelowna’s airport not making it onto a list of approved international airports in Canada, senior staff are certain it soon will be.
In January, Transport Canada announced a list of designated ‘International’ airports in Canada. Among the 13 airports are Vancouver, Edmonton and Halifax, but a handful were excluded including Victoria, Kelowna, Regina, and others.
Known locally as the Kelowna International Airport, it will now have until June 30, 2021, to prove to Transport Canada they are fit to be designated as such.
If not, flights to and from international destinations may be diverted to other centres.
Senior Manager of Airport Operations at Kelowna International Airport, Phillip Elchitz, is certain Kelowna’s name will soon be added back onto the list.
To receive the ‘Intl.’ designation, airports must prove they meet the minimum requirements to service international flights, including the presence of the Canada Border Services Agency, immigration services, protection of the approach, and a few others.
Transport Canada has done this in an effort to align itself with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) definitions of an International airport. When airports align with ICAO regulations, the ‘Intl.’ designation appears in the flight publication.
While this allows for international arrivals and departures, it also makes it easier for international flight companies to choose where they might expand in the future.
“Some international charter and commercial operators will look for the international designation when they make their plans and route decisions, whether to operate in and out of a Canadian airport,” said Elchitz.
“And because Transport Canada hasn’t been aligned with ICAO, these charter and international operators have had to do more research into the airport to make sure it met the minimum requirements.”
Elchitz assured the public that there are “zero risks” of them re-obtaining their international status before the June 30 deadline.
“We currently meet all of the requirements, so there are zero risks of not being able to operate internationally, once the COVID-19 restrictions are eventually lifted.”
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