KAMLOOPS — The Kamloops Airport is celebrating its best year yet for passenger numbers.
2018 saw a 10.6 per cent increase in passengers at the terminal over the previous year — thanks in part to airlines increasing the number of flights in and out of the airport. 2018 also saw the addition of a direct flight to Toronto, which is set to resume operation in June.
Fulton Field was flying high last year — with more than 350,000 passengers passing through the airport terminal.
"We had a good end in 2017 with a growth trend that continued through 2018 and that was our goal to keep that up, and it was supported by an additional frequency on the Calgary route that started in May, and also the direct service to Toronto," Kamloops Airport executive director Heather McCarley says.
The Air Canada flight to Toronto was introduced in June, with three times weekly service that was paused over the winter, and will resume this summer.
"It was gaining huge momentum toward the end of the summer," says Roxanna Ferguson with Travelwise. "I just would like to see them put a little bit more priority on it because the numbers were there, it just took a while for the numbers to grow, and I think we could have, especially in the summer, a daily service filled."
Ferguson says 2018 was a big year for people travelling from Kamloops to warmer destinations — which was made easier by the additional flights in and out of the city's airport.
"If they don't have to spend an overnight in Calgary or Vancouver or Kelowna, of course they're going to do that first," she says. "And the prices have been great. We're not talking a lot more money over and above what it would cost to fly out of Vancouver or Calgary. So people are taking advantage of that."
The airport's record year is good news for the city — but Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian says there are more improvements to be made.
"I think that we need to keep working on an Edmonton connection, we need to work on some Kamloops-Victoria connections, and we need to continue to support the (Air Canada) Rouge Kamloops-Toronto flight when it comes back this summer," he says.
With an exceptional year for passenger numbers in the rear view mirror, the airport is preparing to celebrate 80 years of operation in 2019.
"In particular we will have a re-dedication of the Moose aircraft that has moved to a place of prominence in our traffic circle. If you haven't been out to the airport, do come see it, it's really great," McCarley says. "So we'll have 419 Squadron here to help us mark that occasion."
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