Landing in Kelowna, NewLeaf Travel is now in operation. After months of suspended service due to a licensing issue, the discount carrier is taking flight in 11 Canadian cities, including Kelowna.
Grounded since the winter, the Canadian Transportation Agency decided in March that NewLeaf is not required to hold a licence.
The first flights took off from Kelowna and Hamilton Monday morning, both flights destined for Winnipeg.
By Monday afternoon, another NewLeaf flight was returning to Kelowna, a little behind schedule but with many happy people on board.
One woman told Castanet for years she and her husband would drive for three-days from Manitoba to come to Kelowna for a summer holiday. But now, thanks to the new budget airline, travelling to the Okanagan just got a whole lot easier.
Many said the staff were very happy and helpful, while others said the plane was very clean.
YLW staff greeted the passengers with Okanagan fruit and cupcakes as they stepped off of the plane and onto the tarmac.
Operated and crewed by Kelowna based charter Flair Airlines, the addition of NewLeaf travel to YLW will mean another three destinations for the airport.
Sam Samaddar, YLW’s manager, says currently there is no flight to Winnipeg, Saskatoon or Regina.
“If we look at these three destinations, they are the three biggest destinations that we don’t fly to today. Certainly Winnipeg has been something we’ve been looking at for sometime.”
NewLeaf President and CEO Jim Young agrees, saying his company had also spent time looking to connect Kelowna to Winnipeg.
“We noticed Kelowna was one of the most under served market places in the whole country,” said Young. “They weren’t getting non-stop service from a lot of places, Winnipeg being one of them.
It was always our number one route when we started. We knew there was an opportunity to connect Hamilton with Winnipeg and with Kelowna.”
Young explains NewLeaf offers passengers a seat and a seat belt as their budget carrier taps today’s marketplace that can’t afford to fly.
The company is not technically an airline, but rather a reseller of seats. Their one-way prices do not include airport and air travel fees which could add as much as $100 to the cost of the flight.
Passengers are also warned they will pay extra for bags and NewLeaf will not be flying to every destination every day. In Kelowna, flights to Winnipeg will occur three-days-a-week, while flights to Regina and Saskatoon will only depart two-days-a-week.