Significant progress was made in B.C. airports this year to attract new direct flights.

Kelowna’s International Airport welcomed the arrival of United Airlines’ inaugural direct flight from Los Angeles. The airline will provide daily, year-round service as well as two flights per day on Saturdays between January and April. Kelowna International Airport’s Economic Impact Study estimates each daily, long-haul flight adds 21 person years of employment and 1.2 million in wages to the Okanagan’s economy.

Kelowna International Airport also welcomed North Western Air’s twice weekly direct service to Red Deer in April as well as a new seasonal WestJet flight to Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Vancouver International Airport is celebrating a new daily Lufthansa flight to Munich, which will begin on May 16, 2013 and will run to October 5, 2013. It is estimated that the Vancouver-Munich route will create 131 new jobs and will contribute $8.7 million to B.C.’s GDP during its initial six month daily service. It is estimated the new service will draw nearly 15,000 visitors to B.C.

This announcement follows Virgin Atlantic Airways’ new seasonal direct flights from the UK, which began in May and ran through October. Up to 40,000 passengers were expected to take advantage of this service, generating approximately $21.5 million in tourism revenue and creating an additional 172 direct jobs in hotels, restaurants, shops and tourist attractions.

Sichuan Airlines, offering North America’s first and only direct flight to China’s interior, began offering service three times per week between Vancouver and Chengdu, via Shenyang, on June 22. Sichuan Airlines’ service was estimated to generate 56 person years of employment.