It was a common sight on Friday at Kelowna International Airport: Travellers checking their cellphones regularly for flight updates.
In some cases, there were flight delays of up to three hours.
“Hour and a half so far,” Kelowna resident Carol Jones told Global News, adding she assumed the delays were due to snow, but wasn’t told why.
Snowfall on Friday delayed 15 flights as of 3 p.m., and more were expected.
Airport staff told Global News that weather was to blame, and that it’s also taking time to de-ice planes.
The delays are being blamed on the weather and the time it takes to de-ice the aircraft.
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“Because of the snowfall and the rate of snowfall, there is a requirement for the de-ice and as the rate of the snowfall increases,” said Phillip Elchitz, airport operations director.
“The type of the ice changes, so we’re using a different type of de-icing right now, which takes me longer.”
With outbound flights being delayed, that, in turn, has impacted inbound flights.
“When other aircraft start to arrive, they have to wait for a gate, so that compounds a little bit,” said Elchitz.
“The outbound ice requirements delay the inbound aircraft, and that just becomes compounded over the day.”
In addition to flight delays, airport staff had to contend with a burst pipe, sending water all over the pre-screen boarding area.
The burst pipe temporarily shut down pre-boarding security checks.
Elchitz said the temporary shutdown was around 10-15 minutes and was minor, as “the flights were already delayed. So everybody was able to get through to get to their flight.”
Most passengers are taking the delays in stride, knowing it’s all part of winter travel.
“If I can get out today,” said Jones, “I’ll be grateful.”
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