There’s a lot of fanfare when you become the two millionth person in 2018 to walk through the gate at Kelowna International Airport.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s surprising,” said Joey Hidber, an electrician in the oilpatch who works near Fort McMurray, Alta.
Every time he comes home, he loves walking down the arrivals ramp and seeing his wife and kids who greet him. That happens a lot.
“Thirty-six [times a year] on average; 18 shifts a year, a little more with vacation,” Hidber said on how much he flies.
For being this year’s two millionth passenger, Hidber received a $2,500 gift basket. All of the attention made for a pretty exciting day for the Hidber family, and for the airport, which saw its traffic double in just 13 years.
“In 2005 we achieved one million passengers,” said YLW airport director Sam Samaddar. “I happened to be around for that as well. It took us 47 years to get to one million [passengers in a year] and13 years to get to two million.”
Traffic through YLW has increased 38 per cent in the last five years alone. That means the airport has to keep expanding to accommodate that growth.
“We’re working on expanding our departure room,” said Samaddar. “We start planning the detailed design next year. Also, our domestic arrivals area will be expanded as well.”
Construction on those projects is expected to begin in 2020 — the start of a 10-year, $183 million development.
Meanwhile, YLW’s latest milestone has made the holiday season extra special for the Hidber family.
“What do you think girls?” Hidber asked his two young daughters. “Do you want to open it?”
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