UPDATE: 4:48 p.m.
Kelowna International Airport recently became the 10th busiest in the nation, so it was only a matter of time before Swoop swooped in and started flying out of YLW.
Swoop, which is WestJet’s ultra-low-cost carrier, announced Tuesday that it will provide non-stop service to Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport three times a week beginning May 24.
“Kelowna is very popular, even for a secondary airport,” Swoop spokesperson Karen McIsaac said. “Partially because in the summer the Okanagan Valley is a highly popular tourist destination. The Kelowna airport has been wonderful partners for WestJet, our parent company, for many, many years. So it naturally made sense for us to take a look at Kelowna.”
The flights to and from the Manitoba capital are scheduled for Wednesdays, Fridays and Mondays. They will continue until Oct. 25.
“We already are operating into Winnipeg, so of course we like to move slowly and realize the schedule’s all about realizing economies of scale,” McIsaac said. “So we’re introducing only a strategic number of destinations and really focusing on our network in the stations that we’re already flying to.
“So Kelowna-Winnipeg, being a predominantly leisure-to-leisure route, really meets our model as well and utilizes the secondary airports. We think there’s enough demand there to carry us throughout the summer season and keep our aircraft full.”
Swoop launched six months ago but is already flying in four countries: Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Jamaica. Its Canadian hubs are Edmonton and Hamilton, and it will be adding a seventh aircraft in May. McIsaac said Canadians are buying into the idea of low-cost carriers.
“We are definitely seeing full flights, which is a testament that Canadians are understanding the model,” she said. “And, particularly, we’re seeing a number of large families and people who are travelling for the first time. With large families, a lot of times it becomes a bit cost prohibitive to go anywhere, so you choose not to, but we hear many stories on board of people bringing their grandkid to visit grandma for the very first time just because it’s affordable. It really brings face time to a whole different level, and we’re so proud to be offering that.”
As for Swoop having more destinations out of Kelowna, McIsaac said the situation is simple: If business in the Okanagan is good, the more likely it will start adding routes.
ORIGINAL: 8:24 a.m.
Swoop will start flying out of Kelowna International Airport in late May.
WestJet’s ultra-low-cost carrier will provide non-stop service to Winnipeg Richardson International Airport three times a week beginning on May 24.
“We are excited to welcome Swoop to YLW,” Kelowna airport director Sam Samaddar said in a press release. “Having an ultra-low-cost-carrier in Kelowna is a great opportunity for the Okanagan as it provides more options for travellers.”
Passenger demand between Kelowna and Winnipeg has doubled since a non-stop WestJet route was added in 2017.
“Kelowna is a natural choice as a new destination,” Swoop president Steven Greenway said. “The Okanagan Valley is a popular leisure market and the route between Kelowna and Winnipeg provides excellent value for those looking to explore Canada this summer.”
The service to Winnipeg will continue until October.
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