A new campaign by Vancouver International Airport (YVR) highlights the enhanced health, safety, and cleaning measures of the airport in the new era of COVID-19.
YVR says its “TAKEcare” program aims to not only move passengers through the airport safely, but also help restore public confidence in air travel when governments remove border restrictions and isolation requirements.
The new measures have been described as a multi-layered approach that improves processes, communicates to passengers on what to expect, and is quickly adaptable when conditions change. This includes making the passenger experience seamless and touchless as much as possible.
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“Our goal is to create a frictionless travel experience from curb to cloud so that everyone can feel comfortable and confident when they are travelling through YVR,” said Robyn McVicker, vice-president of operations and maintenance for the Vancouver Airport Authority during today’s press conference.
TAKEcare establishes expands on existing measures and creates new ones, including asking everyone — passengers, and airport and airline staff — to wear a face mask or covering at all times while in the public areas of the terminal building.
Furthermore, for the time being, only travellers with a valid ticket and employees who work at the airport should enter the terminal, with exceptions for those requiring extra assistance.
Hand sanitizer stations can be found throughout the terminal, and more will be added as supply chains allow.
Plexiglass has been installed at counters, and TAKEcare team members are located across the terminal to provide assistance and answer questions.
Ample wayfinding signage and floor decals have been installed to guide the passenger journey and encourage physical distancing.
At the entrance of security screening, there will also be contactless temperature screening, with this process becoming standardized over the coming days for all passengers, as stipulated by Transport Canada.
As well, YVR has ramped up its cleansing and disinfecting practices, including high-touch areas.
“We saw that after 9/11, there were lasting impacts on some of the security screening processes, and we expect the same thing for COVID-19, where there will be lasting impacts on the airport processes as they relate to health and safety,” she continued.
“A lot of work will have to be done to communicate this to our passengers and our partners so that people can start to rebuild confidence and travel again.”
Newly-released statistics for traffic volumes in April 2020, the peak of the pandemic, show just 69,000 passengers went through YVR for the entire month — well below the average of 78,000 typically seen in a single day before the crisis.
But over the past few weeks, McVicker notes YVR has seen early signs of growth, with some traffic starting to return, albeit relatively minor. There has been incremental growth each week.
She says Air Canada and WestJet’s decision to increase their flights for the summer period will help drive traffic.
Currently, with just a single-digit percentage of normal passenger volumes, both domestic and international passengers are consolidated within a smaller footprint of the terminal to reduce operating costs. Sections of the terminal are temporarily shut down.
“YVR has a strong role to play in the recovery of our region, as an economic generator, a jobs creator, and a community contributor,” said McVicker.
“We have a public interest mandate, not only to keep the airport open and operating safely, but also to provide economical and social benefit to our communities… it is very important that we get the YVR hub back up and operating.”
In 2019, YVR supported $20 billion in economic output across the province, including 26,000 direct jobs within Sea Island.