The aircraft that will service the Kelowna to Montreal flight is painted to look like planes did when Air Canada was called Trans-Canada Air Lines. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)

Direct Kelowna to Montreal flights start this month

Kelowna International Airport is expanding its roster of flights despite the pandemic’s negative effects

If you want to go east for a post-pandemic getaway, the Kelowna International Airport (YLW) has you covered.

YLW and Air Canada announced a new flight path early Monday (July 5) morning — Air Canada is now offering non-stop flights connecting Montreal and the Okanagan.

Flights from Kelowna to Montreal will operate three times every week from YLW, increasing to five times weekly by August.

The route will be serviced by the Airbus A220-300, a fuel-efficient aircraft with the Trans-Canada Air Lines paint scheme — the name Air Canada went by from 1937 to 1965.

“With the tough times that we’ve been through (during the COVID-19 pandemic), to be able to launch a brand new service between Montreal and Kelowna is a big deal for us,” said airport director Sam Samaddar, reflecting on the airport’s 2020 traffic decrease of 64 per cent.

“This will absolutely help with the recovery. The Montreal service not only is about access to the Quebec region, but it’s also about access internationally and also to the Atlantic seaboard in Canada and eventually as the borders open, to the seaboard in the US.”

As the province reopens and the pandemic starts to die down, YLW’s numbers are climbing back up, peaking at four thousand passengers just on July 4, more than triple its pandemic low of around 300 a month.

Kelowna mayor Colin Basran said it was exciting not only to finally start having events again but to share some good news.

“I’m really excited about what the future holds for the Okanagan and this is a key part of that future success,” he said.

“Pre-pandemic, YLW had exceeded all expectations for growth and passengers and air services, and as we slowly emerge out of the COVID-19 pandemic, partners like Air Canada are crucial to our economic recovery and to bringing more Canadians to the Okanagan.”

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