Penticton MLA Dan Ashton said Air Canada has received his constituents’ concerns about the proposed flight time changes coming to the Penticton airport this spring.
In February, Air Canada announced that it would be switching out its current planes at the Penticton airport for new Q400s. The change allows for increased capacity on flights to Vancouver but means the airline will be cutting its fourth late-night flight between the two cities as of May 1.
The schedule change was developed to “maintain all of the connections at the YVR hub” according to an Air Canada spokesperson who previously spoke with Black Press staff. Flights will be available out of Penticton Monday to Friday at 9:35 a.m., 12:40 p.m. and 7:35 p.m. with the midday flight not running on weekends.
“Thanks to all of you who took the time to share your thoughts on how you could be impacted by upcoming Air Canada schedule changes at the Penticton Airport (YYF). Your responses were communicated in meetings today between Air Canada and other elected representatives as well other stakeholders,” Ashton wrote on social media. “In my view, Air Canada has a firm understanding on the challenges that may result from the proposed schedule changes.”
The directors of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen also stated their opposition to the Air Canada flight changes and voted on March 7 to send a letter to Air Canada, as well as local MLAs and MPs, requesting the reinstatement of the fourth flight.
“We feel very strongly it’s going to be a big impact. We all use that morning and night flight for business trips and I know a lot of constituents rely on that evening flight in from Vancouver when they’ve been away on holidays. It’s often the only connection back from getting in from Vancouver,” said Karla Kozakevich, chair of the RDOS, during the regular meeting on March 7.
Following the March 11 meeting Ashton said “at this point, we do not have a commitment from Air Canada that the proposed flight schedule will change beyond what has been proposed. What Air Canada has committed to do is look at the concerns raised from South Okanagan residents flying out of Penticton with regards to the new proposed schedule.”
A problem Air Canada is facing with utilizing the larger planes, according to Ashton, is that scheduling is being changed across the board since they are adding Q400 service to other communities, not just Penticton.
“Obviously any scheduling adjustments would create a ripple effect in the travel schedule at other airports, that must also be taken into consideration,” said Ashton. “I will continue to follow up on this important matter and would encourage frequent Air Canada fliers who use the Penticton airport to also share your concerns directly with Air Canada.”
Area residents can provide feedback to the City of Penticton and RDOS about the proposed Air Canada flight changes at www.shapeyourcitypenticton.ca.
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