YVR ready for winter blast and Olympic crush: officials
The Vancouver International Airport unveiled a plan Tuesday to show that it's ready to handle a major snow storm and the expected crush of visitors during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.
Last winter, record snowfall crippled YVR, causing chaos and delays for thousands of travellers. With 45 cm of snow over a six-day stretch, the airport simply didn't have the equipment to cope.
Airport officials say they have spent $30 million on aircraft de-icing systems and snow plows and are ready for anything that Mother Nature brings.
"You will not see wholesale flight cancellations," Brett Patterson, manager of airside operations, told reporters Tuesday. "What you'll see is aircraft moving through with minor delays. Passengers will get in and out of there. They're going to get home for the holidays."
The airport - not the airlines - will now handle all aircraft de-icing. That should mean shorter delays, officials said.
"The airport authority believes we've done everything we need to handle the winter conditions that are possible for Vancouver," said Don Ehrenholz, YVR's vice president of air operations.
Officials said they are also ready to deal with the onslaught of Olympic visitors.
In February, the airport will see almost 300 additional flights.
And on March 1, the day after closing ceremonies, a record 39,000 people are expected to fly out, along with 77,000 pieces of luggage.
Officials said they have bolstered baggage handling, check-in and security services.
That includes full airport check-in facilities at the Athletes Village in Vancouver and Whistler.
The airport is also building a temporary terminal just to handle departing Olympic athletes, their families and other Olympic clients.
There will also be extra staff and volunteers working alongside translators who speak 170 languages.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Mike Killeen and files from The Canadian Press