By ROY WOOD
The city of Penticton is asking towns in the South Okanagan to chip in for a study aimed at convincing Air Canada and WestJet to upgrade or increase their service to and from Penticton Regional Airport
The proposal comes before Osoyoos council on Tuesday with a recommendation from its chief administrative officer that the town contribute $4,000 toward the $30,400 air-service study.
The recommendation follows a letter from Penticton CAO Peter Weeber to his Osoyoos counterpart, Barry Romanko, asking the town to join the effort.
According to Weeber, the goal of the study is to convince Air Canada to upgrade the aircraft on the Vancouver-to-Penticton route from 50-passenger Dash 8-300 to the larger, 74-seat Q400 model.
“The secondary goal,” writes Weeber, “is to review the current service provided by WestJet to determine if current market demand could support additional weekly service to Calgary.”
In his report to Osoyoos council, Romanko says: “The community’s residents and the tourism industry are well served out of Penticton Airport and any additional services will enhance the community.”
The report adds that Penticton has committed $10,000 to the project and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has agreed to contribute $4,000.
There is no indication of the methodology for determining the size of the contributions from the various jurisdictions. Penticton’s population is more than six times that of Osoyoos.
The communities of Oliver, Princeton, Keremeos and Summerland are also being approached by Weeber. If Osoyoos agrees to the $4,000 amount, that will leave $12,400 to be raised elsewhere.
The study is being proposed by air service consultants SNC Lavalin. According to its letter to Weeber, the firm will gather information from interviews with travel agents, ticket data to and from Penticton airport, surveys of passengers on both airlines and a survey of businesses in the area.
Once a draft report is completed, it will be presented to the clients and then SNC Lavalin will prepare the business case and present the findings to Air Canada and WestJet.