Vancouver International Airport preparing for surge in passengers from the United States

Aug 7 2021, 1:38 am

Passenger traffic at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is anticipated to significantly pick up starting next week when Canada-United States border restrictions ease.

After over a year of non-essential travel restrictions, fully-vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents currently living in the US will be able to enter Canada for leisure travel starting at 9:01 pm PT on Sunday, August 8, 2021.

In an email to Daily Hive Urbanized, Vancouver Airport Authority expects YVR will see a high number of passengers from the US. The surge in passenger traffic, coupled with the work-to-rule job action of Canada Border Services agents that started today, could potentially lead to longer processing times.

YVR currently anticipates the estimated time next week to get from a plane to the airport terminal will be between 60 minutes and 90 minutes, including both the customs and COVID-19 health screening processes.

Wait times vary depending on the time of day, increasing when there are multiple flights arriving at the same time.

Passengers are urged to prepare for arrivals, be patient, complete the ArriveCAN app with their vaccination information, and register for arrivals testing in advance.

“We have staff positioned to support passengers and will provide updates on operations should there be any changes to the airport experience in light of this labour action or otherwise,” reads the email YVR.

Last month, the airport’s customs hall configuration was briefly set up to divide fully-vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers into separate processing queues. YVR quickly ended this configuration due to the need to fully use the customs hall’s space and equipment, as more vaccinated passengers than previously expected are anticipated to enter Canada.

vancouver international airport yvr june 2021

COVID-19 testing booths for all international arrivals passengers at Vancouver International Airport’s international arrivals area. (Vancouver Airport Authority)

Over at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), officials there say the reopening of leisure travel from the US next week could lead to over three-hour waits to complete the YYZ arrivals processes due to health screening requirements.

Precise passenger traffic statistics will not be made available for a few weeks, but this past week YVR was projecting an average of 23,000 passengers per day — a substantial increase from even just a few weeks ago, and by far the highest since early March 2020 before the pandemic’s onset.

In late June 2021, YVR estimated as many as 75,000 passengers weekly in July 2021, following the recorded volumes of 48,270 passengers in the first week of June and 59,192 passengers in the third week.

During a typical July, before the pandemic, YVR saw between 60,000 and 70,000 passengers daily.

In 2019, US transborder flights accounted for 6.4 million of the 26.4 million passengers recorded at YVR.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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