New Direct Flights to Vancouver and Kelowna
Significant progress was made in BC airports this year to attract new direct flights. On Dec. 18, 2012, Kelowna’s International Airport welcomed the arrival of United Airlines’ inaugural direct flight from Los Angeles.
The airline will provide daily, year-round service as well as two flights per day on Saturdays between January and April. Kelowna International Airport’s Economic Impact Study estimates each daily, long-haul flight adds 21 person years of employment and 1.2 million in wages to the Okanagan’s economy.
Kelowna International Airport also welcomed North Western Air’s twice weekly direct service to Red Deer in April as well as a new seasonal WestJet flight to Phoenix and Los Angeles.
Vancouver International Airport is celebrating a new daily Lufthansa flight to Munich, which will begin on May 16, 2013 and will run to October 5, 2013. It is estimated that the Vancouver-Munich route will create 131 new jobs and will contribute $8.7 million to BC’s GDP during its initial six month daily service. It is estimated the new service will draw nearly 15,000 visitors to BC.
This announcement follows Virgin Atlantic Airways’ new seasonal direct flights from the UK, which began in May and ran through October. Up to 40,000 passengers were expected to take advantage of this service, generating about $21.5 million in tourism revenue and creating an additional 172 direct jobs in hotels, restaurants, shops and tourist attractions.
Sichuan Airlines, offering North America’s first and only direct flight to China’s interior, began offering service three times per week between Vancouver and Chengdu, via Shenyang, on June 22. Sichuan Airlines’ service was estimated to generate 56 person years of employment.
In early 2012, the government of BC eliminated the jet fuel tax for international flights, reducing costs for airlines.
Mary Polak, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, “As Canada’s Pacific Gateway, BC is working to bring new investment into our economy and increase our competitiveness in the global marketplace. This new, direct United Airlines service to Kelowna will create new opportunities for businesses throughout the region and create jobs for BC families. At the same time, this will help to strengthen our aviation sector and connect BC with the world.”
International visitors spend over $3 billion each year in BC and the tourism industry contributed $6.5 billion of added value to the BC economy, as measured through GDP (in 2002 constant dollars).
Effective June 1, 2013, Air Canada will increase its service between Vancouver and Beijing from daily to eleven flights weekly.