Increased Airport Fee to fund Major Expansion

Nov 7, 2019

Photo: YLW

Kelowna International Airport has plans for major expansion over the next 10 years. On Monday, council unanimously approved a $5 ticket fee increase, from $20 to $25, which will fund nearly $200 million in projects by 2029 to support continual growth. Big tickets items include two phase terminal expansion, estimated to cost $108.7 million. Mayor Colin Basran expressed his excitement, adding this is a massive expansion that will serve the Okanagan region extremely well.

“I’m really excited to see this because this is huge and it’s going to make a big difference to the user experience when it’s completed. It’s just going to be another reason to fly in and out of our community.”

Phase one expands the departures lounge, food options and pre-board screening. Work will begin in 2020 and is expected to be completed by 2023. This phase will also reconfigure the airside corridor at the north end, creating a North bridge on Gate two, as well as additional corridors, to allow for simultaneous arrival of international and domestic flights. Construction will begin in 2020 and be completed by 2021.

Phase two, constructed between 2023 and 2025, will see domestic arrivals relocated to the south end of the terminal, alongside renovations to the existing arrivals area to accommodate a larger international arrivals area.

When looking at other Airport Improvement Fees (AIF) in Canada, Senior Airport Finance and Corporate Services Manager, Shayne Dyrdal, said Kelowna’s increased fee price is in line with other low cost airports.

“Of the 15 busiest airports in Canada, 13 of them have an AIF of equal to or more than $20. When you look at the top five busiest airports in Canada, all of them have an AIF equal to or more than $25 as of January 1st,” adding Vancouver’s Airport Improvement Fee will be increasing from $20 to $25 at that point in time.

The airport anticipates earning roughly $28 million per year, through this fee, increasing over the term of the program. This will exclusively fund $191 million ($220 million, with inflation) in projects over the next 10 years.

“People that use the airport are willing to pay for improvements,” said Coun. Luke Stack. “When we have really good services, when you can get something to eat while you waiting for your flight, when you have expeditious movement through security, that’s very important to people when they’re travelling and I think for us to keep up and make sure we are continuing to offer a high level of service, I think all the citizens that use the airport want that,” said Stack.

Additional projects include apron expansion; self-serve baggage drop, a Combined Operations building, and acquisition of heavy-duty airside equipment. No tax dollars will be used to pay for improvements.

(News Source: AM1150, Baillie Vickers)