WestJet cancels all YVR flights from late Thursday afternoon to Friday afternoon


As Vancouver airport prepares for another winter storm, WestJet has announced a series of « proactive cancellations » beginning with flights scheduled for late Thursday evening.

The airline said every arrival and departure at Vancouver International Airport would be canceled from 11:50 p.m. until late Friday afternoon, depending on weather conditions.

Additional flights have been canceled at Victoria International Airport, Abbotsford International Airport, Nanaimo Airport and Comox Airport, WestJet said in an emailed statement.

« The proactive cancellations will impact 126 flights at the five airports and were made in consultation with airport authorities, » the statement said. « All affected guests have been notified. »

Earlier today, a Vancouver airport spokesperson confirmed that 766 flights had been canceled since the last snowstorm, affecting around 90,000 passengers.

There were 115 canceled flights on Thursday alone.

The cancellations left some passengers stranded at YVR for days, including Karen Fernandez, who said she had reached her breaking point.

« We’re running out of money for food and I’m running out of patience, » Fernandez said.

She and her grandson attempt to return home to Arkansas.

“I want to be home with my grandchildren for Christmas. I never missed a Christmas with them,” she said, holding back tears.

YVR is still trying to clear the backlog from the storm that hit the South Coast earlier this week, an effort that included restricting international arrivals until early Friday morning.

Tamara Vrooman, president and chief executive of the airport, said the limitation on international flight arrivals was affecting the travel plans of around 6,000 passengers.

« It’s a very difficult decision, but it has allowed the majority of passengers – around 120,000 – to access their flights, » she said.

Vrooman described the weather situation as « unprecedented » and said that although the runways were cleared of snow, the biggest problem was that the snow was piling up too quickly on the planes.

« By the time we defrosted it, it replenished and we had to defrost again and again, » she said.

It left passengers waiting on planes on the tarmac for hours – a situation Vrooman called « totally unacceptable » and assured it would not happen again.

« We made an adjustment here to make sure that until the next snow event we don’t have barriers, » she said.

As of Thursday afternoon, the airport said an average of 28 planes were being de-iced every hour.

Officials also said staff had distributed 5,000 bottles of water, 5,000 snacks such as apples and oranges, and thousands of blankets and hand warmers to stranded passengers affected by flight cancellations since Tuesday.

With much more snow forecast over the next few days, YVR warned travelers to expect additional delays and cancellations.


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