Flights to and from Vancouver Airport (YVR) are set to resume following delays and cancellations during the Christmas holiday period caused by severe storm conditions.
Going snowhere fast
Severe weather conditions in southern British Columbia (BC) have affected domestic and international passengers travelling to and from Vancouver Airport during the Christmas holiday period.
Snow and ice conditions following a snowstorm in the province on Tuesday 20th December, hindered efforts to maintain normal airport operations. To prevent airfield congestion from reaching unsustainable levels, the airport was forced to impose a 48-hour ban on inbound international flights from 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday 21st December. The restrictions affected around 30 flights across 17 airlines, including, among others, Air India, British Airways, Eurowings, Qantas and Turkish Airlines.
Airlines Air Canada and WestJet cancelled numerous flights to and from airports in BC, as well as flights to and from airports in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec from Friday 23rd to Saturday 24th December. In the case of Vancouver International Airport, this action led to only about 50% of scheduled fights operating on Friday.
Other airlines forced to announce weather-related cancellations during the pre-Christmas period include budget Canadian airline Sunwing Airlines and BC’s regional airline Pacific Coastal.
Vancouver Airport Authority CEO Tamara Vrooman noted that it was not simply the amount of snow that exacerbated operational issues but rather the speed at which it fell, and the difficulties the airport’s staff encountered in keeping the runways, taxiways and aprons clear of snow and ice. In addition, she emphasised the daunting task of re-booking thousands of stranded passengers onto alternative flights.
The restrictions at Vancouver Airport were lifted on Friday morning, with some flights running behind schedule the next day. As of Saturday morning, the airport resumed regular operations; Vrooman reported that 93% of scheduled flights departed as planned.
Comfort and Care Provision
Stranded passengers were provided with hotel accommodation over the Christmas holiday period as part of the airport’s package of “care and comfort”; the package included the provision of 400 rooms at local hotels for stays of up to four nights and restaurant gift cards for passengers facing overnight delays and waiting for new flights, with families and the elderly being prioritised.
Passengers choosing to stay at the airport were accommodated in a designated section in the Level 3 Departures area; the special area provided enhanced comfort, with provisions including cots, blankets, hygiene kits and other supplies.
Yet more flight delays in Decemburr
Flight delays due to severe weather incidents are a common phenomenon. At the beginning of the month, passengers were stranded at Heathrow Airport due to unusual weather conditions. Fog and ice conditions led to flight cancellations, and passengers expressed their anger on social media regarding never-ending queues and problems they experienced in the baggage reclaim area.
Were you affected by Vancouver Airport’s delays? Let us know in the comments!