Kelowna International Airport. —Image: Capital News file

Passenger numbers drop at Kelowna International Airport as coronavirus grips globe

Director Sam Samaddar said passenger numbers are down almost 4% year-over-year

Traffic through Kelowna International Airport has dropped as the global epidemic from the novel coronavirus takes hold.

Sam Samaddar, the airport’s director, said traffic through the airport has decreased by 3.8 per cent when comparing January 2019 to January 2020.

Samaddar blamed part of the passenger decline through the airport on the spread of the virsus, which has infected more than 100,000 people around the world and killed more than 3,800 people.

“The impacts from the novel coronavirus is definitely having an affect on the passenger decline,” said Samaddar.

“People have been adjusting, cancelling or rebooking their flights at the airport because of this.”

Samaddar said the airport has done all they can to help prevent the spread of the virus in the Interior.

“We’ve added additional cleaning measures at our airport on a daily basis,” said Samaddar.

“Our Canadian customs’ officers also are getting briefed everyday on the current state of the novel coronavirus.”

READ MORE: B.C. records first COVID-19 death in Canada as province hits 32 cases

READ MORE: Coronavirus impacts Okanagan fruit exports to Asia

Samaddar said the grounding of 737 max jets and deteriorating relations with China over the Huawei scandal have also had an impact.

CEO of Tourism Kelowna Lianne Ballantyne said visitor numbers are also down at some Kelowna hotels.

“We’ve heard from some hotels that they are suffering from a decline in group tours,” said Ballantyne.

“That includes cancellations from Asian companies that would’ve seen tourists come to Vancouver and the Interior.”

Ballantyne said a recent recommendation by the Public Health Agency advising Canadians against all cruise ship travel could also mean less tourism to the Okanagan.

Ballayntine said if visitation is down at major ports like Vancouver, that means less people will be hopping on a bus to visit other popular tourism destinations like Kelowna.

According to the Health Canada, there have been 79 confirmed cases of the virus in Canada, including 37 in B.C. One death was also reported at a seniors care facility in B.C. on March 9.

If passengers are thinking of changing their travel plans, Samaddar said there’s never been a better time for Canadians to explore their own country this summer.

“The novel coronavirus is currently a low health risk in Canada,” said Samaddar.

“I certainly advise people to travel in Canada as an alternative plan if they choose not to visit Asia due to the novel coronavirus.”

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTER: Former Summerland mayors speak out on solar project

Five former Summerland mayors sign name to short letter

Emergency crews conduct CPR on unresponsive person in Okanagan Lake

West Kelowna emergency crews are on scene at the shores of Jubilee Mobile Home Park

Summerland Museum reopens

Museum to open on July 15 with reduced operating hours

WFN eases COVID-19 restrictions for tenants and landlords

Westbank First Nations make changes as COVID-19 restrictions begin to slightly lift

Penticton photographer publishes book showcasing resilience of Okanagan people

Okanagan Strong showcases the bravery of many during crisis; from COVID-19, to floods, and fires

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Kelowna taxpayers could pay $90K for losses caused by cancelled Memorial Cup

$135,000 would be put aside for a potential bid for a future opportunity to host the tournament

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Motorcycle rider seriously injured in collision with vehicle on Highway 97 west of Pritchard

Chase RCMP report that motorcycle was attempting to pass when crash occurred

Predator mutilated cats in Kelowna: BC SPCA

The BC SPCA confirmed a mutilated cat was killed by a predator

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

$500 fine for Vernon man caught near Coldstream playground

Richard Slobodian, 58, served one night in jail and ordered to pay for breaching probation

Most Read