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YVR airport authority implements action plan to tackle travel disruptions

YVR investing $40M in tech, equipment and staff
Passengers at Vancouver International Airport faced significant disruptions over the past holiday season. The airport unveiled a new plan to address issues in the future. | Valerie Leung, Richmond News

A new action plan to tackle future travel disruptions was announced by the Vancouver Airport Authority Monday morning.

The plan focuses on improved technologies that can report weather delays and better communication with travellers during disruptions at Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

Tamara Vrooman, president and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, said they are implementing several key actions in response to YVR’s after-action review report.

The report showed changes in the recent weather and labour environment has put the airport’s “ecosystem” under stress.

This was glaringly obvious on Dec. 20, 2022 when about 180,000 passengers travelling through YVR airport were left stranded by flight delays and cancellations.

Metro Vancouver was hit with several significant snowfalls between Dec. 18 and Dec. 23, leading to widespread airline cancellations and delays.

“Far too many people were waiting for information in our terminal,” said Vrooman.

Improved airfield coordination, weather equipment and communication among staff and between staff and passengers are some of the solutions that will be targeted in the action plan, according to Vrooman.

“This action plan allows us to purchase equipment to have an (improved) weather station located right here at YVR,” said Vrooman.

“That way all (staff)… can have access to the same information, therefore making planning easier for our operations.”

They are backing up their goal with a $40 million investment, which will be used for technology, equipment and supporting staff.

This will help improve airport operations including better weathering monitoring, new gate protocols so passengers can deplane within 30-inutes of landing, better training for staff for passenger support, and baggage handling.

“We’ll be focusing on data and technology to make sure that we can make use of real-time data,” said Vrooman.

“You can track our performance and we can track and report and be accountable for our performance to the public.”

Vrooman also acknowledged that passengers want to “speak to real people” instead of people over the phones during flight disruptions.

“Whether it’s two in the morning or two in the afternoon, we will have our staff on the floor in increasing numbers able to answer your questions as you’re moving through the terminal.

“We need to do better. And we need to be better by ensuring that we have the information that people need in one single place, so they can get that information with the decisions that they need and get on their way.”

Aside from implementing new technology and equipment, the Airport Authority will focus on staff training to ensure better coordination and a more fluid workflow.

The airport authority has already begun implementing some elements of the action plan, according to Vrooman.

“We haven’t been wasting any time. I’m confident that these actions will improve the efficiency of our airport as well as our service.”

-with files from Canadian Press