Over the course of the last few weeks, airports around the province were overwhelmed by intense winter storms and thousands of holiday travellers.
Kelowna International Airport (YLW) was also affected as the city dealt with snowfall and -25 C temperatures the week before Christmas.
“When I look at the airport operations themself, those things went very well,” YLW airport director Sam Samaddar told Capital News. “Through the various storms, our teams did a great job keeping the runway open and available for aircraft to use.”
Because the weather affected the majority of the province, including Vancouver International Airport (YVR), many people had their flights delayed or even cancelled.
“What we don’t control of course is the transit of aircraft through various communities,” said Samaddar. “What we saw for our airport was quite a few flight cancellations which then results in passengers having to be re-booked or in some cases, some passengers never did make it to their destination.”
Because of this, YLW had 90 per cent of aircraft during that week first before the holidays off-schedule, Sammaddar said, meaning they were delayed.
The airports and airlines are two sides of the coin that have to work together when dealing with delays, which can be a challenge when there are many flights delayed because of weather and various other possibilities.
“You have to look at it as an ecosystem that has to work in contest together so there’s no point in blaming one side of the other,” said Samaddar. “Flight schedules can get delayed for many reasons. During winter peaks, you don’t have any surplus capacity. When things do go sideways due to whatever those reasons may be, there’s much less capacity to recover from it.”
With the many delays, cancellations, and rescheduling, many travellers’ bags didn’t make the flights with their passengers and arrived later, causing luggage to be scattered across various airports, including YLW. During these last few days as the holidays come to a close and people return home and to work, many people are being reunited with their bags.
“There are actually very few bags left,” said Samaddar. “The airlines have done a good job over the weekend, overnight cleaning that up. There are a few bags but some of them are either on their way or connecting with the owner of those bags.”
With the weather being consistently cloudy with no precipitation in Kelowna over the last few days and for the rest of the week, the airport operations were almost completely on-time on Tuesday.