The head of Vancouver’s airport authority has pledged to do better following a holiday travel season of cancelled and delayed flights after a snowstorm crippled operations.
Tamara Vrooman, president and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, which oversees YVR, said an “enhanced after-action review” will be launched to collect input from stakeholders and travellers.
"We recognize that this past holiday season was very hard on travellers, their friends, and families. Many people were looking forward to travelling again, particularly since this was the first December in three years where most travel restrictions were lifted,” Vrooman said in a statement on Jan. 11.
“We have seen that the systems and processes our airport community has relied on for decades must be improved given the realities our industry has experienced post-pandemic along with increasing climate-related weather events.”
Vrooman said the review, which will commence next week, will collect feedback from airlines, partners, suppliers, and employees.
“We have engaged KPMG and global aviation planning and advisory firm, Arup, to assist in this review,” she said.
YVR will also be engaging the public to hear directly about their experiences and suggestions for improvement.
The calm after the storm
A heavy winter storm brought flights leaving YVR to a halt on Dec. 20, with WestJet alone cancelling more than 400 flights across its network during what is typically the busiest week of the year for travel.
In the days leading up to Christmas, YVR arranged for 400 rooms at hotels and restaurant gift cards, free of charge, to passengers facing overnight delays.
Vrooman said YVR has implemented initial measures to help ensure a similar situation does not occur while the review is ongoing.
These measures include greater communication and coordination with airlines around gating, towing, and communication with passengers, she said.
She said the initiatives and learnings will inform “continued improvements at YVR” and allow the airport to “work across the aviation ecosystem to enhance the overall travel experience for passengers.”
“The pandemic was tough on aviation and travel. And the industry is still recovering from it,” she said. “The 26,000 employees who work at YVR have been resilient, creative and empathetic throughout. All qualities on display recently and all qualities needed in the future."