Canada’s aviation sector, already under strain, is preparing for peak winter travel.
Castanet News received multiple complaints the past two weekends associated with significant delays experienced by Kelowna travellers connecting through Calgary International Airport.
Passengers reported waiting on the tarmac at the airport upon landing, and before departure, resulting in delays of between an hour and three hours. Luggage was lost on multiple direct flights between Kelowna and Calgary.
WestJet, which is headquartered in Calgary, said in a statement that it is hard to pinpoint any particular reason for the rash of recent delays.
The past few weeks have brought frigid weather, in addition to waits for de-icing “and at times the availability of crew on the ground pending aircraft arrival times.”
“Delays can compound for a multitude of reasons,” a WestJet spokesperson said.
Major airports across the country have been struggling to deal with soaring travel demand as the pandemic wanes. Legions of frustrated travellers and resulting in the issue has becoming political.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra told CTV News this week the feds are working with air travel stakeholders to ensure the summer’s headline-grabbing problems don’t repeat.
“Look, Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year,” he told CTV. “Because it is going to be one of the busiest times of the year I expect there will be some lineups, but what I want to make sure that never happens again is these unacceptable delays that we saw last summer, of cancellations, of frustration, of luggage loss.”
WestJet, meanwhile, says they are “proactively” preparing for the holiday rush “and continue to responsibly manage and plan for our operations to meet the anticipated demand of our guests and to proactively mitigate any foreseeable challenges.”
The airline says they are working with partners to grow their hub and headquarters in Calgary by expanding ramp operations like baggage handling and aircraft ground movement.
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