Across Canada and around the world, regional airports play a vital role in connecting their communities to major international airports - and global markets and destinations beyond. The common challenge for these smaller airports, however, is driving awareness within their own community in order to attract and retain strong connectivity to international hubs.
“Passengers are always looking for a convenient way to get to their destination. To avoid booking multiple airline tickets, we’re seeing residents of regional communities drive to international airports rather than book out of their local airport,” Jeremy Pennington, director of air service development at Vantage Airport Group, explained to Routesonline on the sidelines of this year's World Routes in Chengdu, China. “However, airlines serving regional airports frequently offer onward flights that can be booked on a single itinerary.”
Two such regional airports can be found in the Vantage Airport Group network: Kamloops Airport (YKA) and North Peace Regional Airport (YXJ), both in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada. YKA and YXJ have enjoyed recent success in promoting the tourism and business possibilities originating from their airport using the concept of One Ticket, One Stop. This approach helps encourage airlines to maximize the use of both international hubs and regional feeder airports, and reminds the community and businesses of the travel options from their local airport, either direct or through a codeshare.
“The One Ticket, One Stop campaign has really resonated with these communities,” said Pennington. “The average passenger just wasn’t aware of the onward connections available from their regional airport—or the fare advantage of booking straight through to their final destination.”
From Kamloops Airport, for example, travellers can fly to 83 global destinations served through either Vancouver or Calgary’s international airports. Home to Sun Peaks, B.C.’s second largest four-season destination resort, golf courses galore and a growing wine industry, Kamloops also offers travellers on the other side of those destinations many compelling reasons to visit – and they have. In the past five years, YKA has seen a 23 per cent increase in passengers and welcomed new services and additional frequencies.
Further north in B.C., travellers can connect from North Peace Regional Airport to one of 96 international destinations via Vancouver or Calgary. Despite an oil-related economic downturn and some delays to the development of the region’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, YXJ has continued to post passenger traffic increases. In fact, YXJ has seen a three-year average growth rate of approximately 22 percent. Backed by Vantage Airport Group and with the support of airlines and travellers – both local and international – these regional airports are poised for continued connectivity.