Getting your bags from check-in to the plane at Kelowna International Airport now takes less time than it does to scan your passport and issue you a boarding pass.
YLW officials showed off the airport’s new $39 million outbound baggage system Wednesday, a system that can whisk your bags through a series of state-of-the-art security screening measures and x-rays in just 80 seconds and handle as many as 900 bags an hour. The old system could only handle 450 bags an hour.
“This new technology lends itself to harmonize with screening systems across North America,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, in opening the system by sending the ceremonial first bag down the conveyor belt at one of the airport’s newly renovated check counters in the terminal.
“It’s a step in the right direction and helps transition our airport from the small airport it was, into a modern, mid-sized airport.”
The new baggage system includes two separate baggage lines that can be combined and provides both redundancy and the ability to expand to as many as 1,400 bags per hour. It was installed as part of a 25-month project that also saw 50 per cent of the existing airport terminal building at YLW either expanded or renovated.
According to airport director Sam Samaddar, the installation of the new baggage handling system came in $1 million under budget and was completed eight months ahead of schedule.
The system, which is highly automated, scans bags at three different levels using the latest x-ray technology, as well as sensors that alert staff if human screening is needed or if bags are suspect and need to be removed from the system and taken to a secure area of the airport property for further investigation. The last part will be handled by robotic carts in the near future.
The new system and the terminal renovations are just the latest in a long line of multi-million dollar projects to expand and improve Kelowna’s airport, which continues to post stunning growth in the number of passengers flying in and out of it.
According to Samaddar, this year the airport is on pace to handle 1.9 million passengers and is already running 10 per cent higher in terms of passenger volumes than it was last year.
The airport, which is entirely self-funded through fees—such as the airport improvement fee charged on every outbound ticket—continues to be the 11th busiest in Canada.
Because it has direct flights to the U.S., it has to not only satisfy Transport Canada regulations but also U.S. security protocols.
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