Officials in Penticton are celebrating the announcement on Friday that WestJet Encore will start flying from that city to Calgary in the fall.

Penticton Mayor Gary Litke said his city has been lobbying to get the service for a long time.

“Penticton has been at a considerable disadvantage for some time now because the only way for anyone to fly east from Penticton, they must either drive up to Kelowna and catch flight from there or else fly to Vancouver — fly west first of all to fly east,” he said.

Many people who live in the area work in the Alberta oilsands, or have business interests in Eastern Canada, he said.

The flights will also help bring tourists to the region, Litke said.

WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer said a year and a half ago the airline invited communities across Canada to make a pitch for WestJet to fly there.

“Penticton was one of those that came and they presented a very compelling case,” he said.

“So, there is a combination of leisure and business traffic. Quite obviously a lot of Albertans vacation in the south Okanagan … In addition to that we also know … there are a number of migrant workers who are going back and forth,” he said.  

The once-daily service between Penticton and Calgary, using WestJet Encore's Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft, begins on Oct. 26.