Trail airport set to welcome Kelowna flights

Pacific Coastal's first Kelowna-Trail flight lands Monday at 1:40pm at the city airport.

Only two months into his term, Trail Mayor Mike Martin has already landed a one-of-a kind civic duty.

He’ll be sporting a safety vest, acoustic earmuffs and handheld beacons when he helps marshal the first commercial Kelowna-to-Trail flight at the city’s airport Monday at 1:40 p.m.

Once passengers are given the red carpet treatment off the Pacific Coastal aircraft and welcomed to the Trail Regional Airport, airline staff will be on site for a ribbon cutting and cake slicing celebration.

Martin’s day doesn’t end there however, because he and wife Debbie will be boarding the inaugural Trail-to-Kelowna flight that departs at 2:15 p.m. and lands at Kelowna International Airport about 40 minutes later. The event marks the first time there has been a regularly scheduled flight from the West Kootenay to the Okanagan epicentre, although the incentive has been in the works for awhile.

“When I started (with Pacific Coastal) about four years ago, the very first trip I made was to Trail,” recalled Keith Boothroyd, the company’s sales and marketing director. “When I got off the plane at the airport, the very first person I met, asked, ‘When are you going to fly to Kelowna?’”

The opportunity to add the route, which offers round trip flights six days a week, only recently became available after Pacific Coastal shuffled its schedule that now includes a regular service from Victoria to Prince George.

“It wasn’t easy to do because of our limited number of aircraft,” said Boothroyd. “But re-doing our schedule allowed us some wiggle room, so we are responding to the most common request we have heard from the Trail and district community.”

Excluding Saturdays, flights are scheduled to depart the Kelowna airport at 1 p.m., arrive at the Trail Regional Airport at 1:40 p.m. THe aircraft will depart from Trail at 2:15 p.m. arriving back in Kelowna at 2:55 p.m.

“We have carved a niche for ourselves and what we are doing is finding ways to connect communities in the province, and that’s exciting,” said Boothroyd. “We know who we are, and who we are not. There’s no point in going to try and take on the big hairy gorillas and the big destinations,” he chuckled. “We’re better in the hinterlands providing really good service to people who need it in the smaller communities.”