Flights at Vancouver airport resuming after winter storm causes mass flight cancellations

Click to play video: 'YVR working to restart after widespread flight cancellations'
YVR working to restart after widespread flight cancellations
As hundreds of travellers try to make it home for the holidays, YVR says it's working hard to get back on track amid weather chaos and mass flight cancellations. As Paul Johnson reports, that includes an unprecedented move to accommodate stranded passengers over Christmas – Dec 23, 2022

Flights to and from Vancouver International Airport are steadily resuming after severe delays and cancellations due to hazardous winter weather.

The airport itself was fully operational as of Saturday morning, with 93 per cent of scheduled flights at YVR departing, according to Vancouver Airport Authority CEO Tamara Vrooman.

By 10 a.m., 36 flights had been cancelled while 484 were expected to leave as planned.

Read more: YVR putting hundreds of stranded passengers up in hotels amid storm delays

“We’re at full operation. The runway is bare and wet and ready for Santa, as we say, as we head into Christmas day tomorrow,” Vrooman said.

“Our infrastructure has performed well. Our snow removal and de-icing facilities worked as planned. We have been investing in those over the past several months because we haven’t seen increasing extreme weather events.”

Story continues below advertisement

YVR expects around 65,000 travellers to make their way through the airport on Christmas Eve — a number Vrooman calls typical for the holiday season.

As of Saturday afternoon, around a dozen flights had been cancelled and many others were delayed.

Click to play video: 'Flights slowly getting back on track at YVR, CEO says airport making adjustments'
Flights slowly getting back on track at YVR, CEO says airport making adjustments

On Friday, the airport announced additional “care and comfort” for people stranded at the terminal amid widespread cancellations and delays due to winter weather.

This included cots, blankets and quiet spaces for people to rest, and 400 hotel rooms for up to four nights for travellers, particularly families and seniors. So far, 145 bookings have been made.

“The hotel community’s been excellent in terms of responding to our calls for rooms right away,” Vrooman said. “The food grocery industry has also been awesome in terms of providing support for food and meals. So, it’s been a real community effort, and we definitely have been impressed by the support we’ve had to date.”

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Rain, snow and winter storm warnings issued for southern B.C.

With mass cancellations from WestJet and Air Canada, the airport only saw around 50 per cent of its planned departures take off on Friday, according to Vrooman. WestJet proactively cancelled many flights in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec due to the winter storms.

“This year has been a very unusual year in that we went from almost a standstill at the beginning of the year, due to the pandemic, to traffic increasing over six months by 168 per cent,” Vrooman said.

“This winter, we’ve seen successive winter events. I think what we’re seeing is these winter events are more frequent and more severe when they come.”

Click to play video: 'Airport chaos: Winter weather delays, cancels flights across Canada'
Airport chaos: Winter weather delays, cancels flights across Canada

A restriction on inbound international flights — put in place following Tuesday’s snowstorm — was lifted Friday morning. However, some flights were running behind Saturday.

Story continues below advertisement

“We have had a few delays of international flights,” Vrooman said. “The Singapore Airways flight was delayed this morning. The Air India flight that was cancelled yesterday did depart this morning.”

The cancellations left hundreds of people stranded in the airport, with some passengers sitting on planes on the tarmac for upwards of 12 hours. Vrooman said it was unacceptable to have people wait hours on planes.

— With files from Amy Judd

Read more: WestJet cancelling flights across Canada amid storm: ‘Unlike anything we’ve experienced’

Sponsored content