Olympic Breaking Point
Nov. 19. 2009 – People may take their time getting to Vancouver for the Olympics, but once the Games are over everyone wants to leave at the same time.
Nov. 19. 2009 – People may take their time getting to Vancouver for the
Olympics, but once the Games are over everyone wants to leave at the
same time. That’s the message from a press conference at YVR on
November 17th as the airport authority, Air Canada and VANOC joined
forces to give an overview of their operational plans for the Olympic
period. When you get past the mutual admiration society the three have
created, it becomes apparent that YVR will be pushed to the breaking
point to meet its Olympic obligations.
|Brett Patterson, YVR Director of Airside Operations.
Paul Levy, YVR’s VP of 2010 Planning, and Don Ehrenholz, VP of Airport
Operations, presented the numbers that YVR is working to. From working
with airport authorities in Sidney, Salt Lake City and Turin, it became
apparent that when the Olympics are over, everyone wants to leave at
once. Historically, the busiest travel day is the day after the closing
ceremonies. For Vancouver, that will be March 1st, when an anticipated
39,000 people pass through YVR, along with 77,000 pieces of luggage.
YVR’s busiest day to date was in August 2008 when 26,000 people passed
through with 29,200 checked bags. For a general rule of thumb, airlines
calculate 1.6 pieces of checked baggage for each passenger. Olympic
athletes average 7 pieces of baggage, often over-sized and awkwardly
|Air Canada 767 de-icing demo
|YVR snow clearing equipment.
Lisa Pierce, Air Canada’s Senior Director – Olympic Airport Interface,
spoke of the planning the airline has put in place to ensure a “robust
operation network-wide even in the face of the unexpected.” Air Canada
is identifying Olympic team travel around the world to ensure that the
airline has the people and equipment in place throughout their entire
network to meet the challenge.
YVR is creating a “virtual YVR” at the athlete villages in Vancouver
and Whistler to expedite travel arrangements for Olympic athletes and
team officials, while minimizing the impact of the increased passenger
load on other airport clients. For a period at the end of February
through early March, athletes and officials will be able to check-in 24
hours in advance of their flight at terminals in the village, allowing
their baggage to be moved and screened independently of them. On peak
days, these Olympic passengers will be processed through a special Sea
Island Remote Terminal (SIRT), adjacent to the existing international
terminal, to minimize the impact on day to day traffic in the main
Security will be paramount. Airport authorities will only acknowledge
that at some point before the Olympics, hundreds of people from a
number of government agencies will take over responsibility for
security from the current private security guards staffing the gates
and patrolling the concourses. No other information was forthcoming.
Vancouver Airport Authority will be responsible for managing the
reservation system for all take-offs and landings at YVR, Boundary Bay
and Abbotsford during the 2010 Winter Games period from January 29
until March 24. As many as 300 aircraft a day are expected to use the
Airport South facilities and extra screening units have been installed
to accommodate the increased volume. All aircraft traveling from
airports where security screening is not available will be required to
go through screening before landing at YVR. The airport authority is
working with airports as far away as Boise, Idaho and Reno, Nevada to
ensure aircraft will be screened properly.
YVR has beefed up their snow-clearing capabilities to avoid a repeat of
last year’s closed runways and cancelled flights caused by record
snowfalls. An expanded fleet of equipment will allow both runways to
remain operational, even if last years snowfall is repeated. De-icing
operations have been streamlined by contracting with AeroMAG of
Montreal to provide a centralized service available to all airlines,
instead of leaving individual airlines responsible for their own