Hot on the heels of WestJet’s announcement earlier this week of more non-stop Kelowna-Toronto flights, Air Canada on Thursday revealed it will beef up its offerings between the two cities.
“This just happens to be coincidental timing,” said Kelowna airport director Sam Samaddar.
“This is the time of year when airlines release their spring and summer schedules. We’ve been working with Air Canada for some time to get more year-round service on the Kelowna-Toronto route.”
The new Air Canada flights will be daytime non-stops between Kelowna and Toronto on Saturdays and Sundays from April 22 to May 28. The airline will use one of its 175-seat Air Canada Rouge Airbus 319 jets.
From May 29 to mid-September, Air Canada will fly Kelowna-Toronto daily with a 200-seat Rouge Airbus 321.
Over the winter, Air Canada has been flying Kelowna-Toronto non-stop two or three times a week.
However, in the past, there was a gap during April and May when the non-stops ceased for the shoulder season between the winter, when skiers demanded non-stops, and the busy summer.
WestJet’s news earlier this week outlined overnight Kelowna-Toronto flights starting May 18.
For the first six weeks, the red-eyes will depart shortly after midnight four days a week and arrive in Toronto at 7:15 a.m.
From June 30 to Sept. 5, the red-eyes will fly daily, scaling back to three times a week Sept. 6 to Oct. 8.
The service will be closely monitored, with the possibility of WestJet continuing the overnights year-round.
All this is in addition to WestJet’s regular daytime daily flight between Kelowna and Toronto.
It also means that for much of the spring, summer and fall, Kelowna will have three non-stop flights a day to Toronto — two with WestJet and one with Air Canada Rouge.
The increased frequency is a testament to Kelowna’s airport becoming a transportation hub for the Southern Interior.
Passengers not only come from Kelowna, but from throughout the Okanagan, Similkameen, Thompson and Kootenays to catch planes to 16 non-stop destinations, including Toronto, Seattle, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Prince George, Whitehorse, Castlegar and six sun spots during the winter.
A Winnipeg non-stop will also become a reality this spring when WestJet starts up four-times-a-week service from Kelowna.
“The non-stops don’t just link Kelowna directly with Toronto, but also gives people the possibility to get to 180 other destinations around the world with just one connection in Toronto,” said Samaddar.
Kelowna’s airport serves 1.7 million passengers a year who fly to 16 non-stop destinations via nine airlines and 33 departures a day.