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YVR prepares for winter with $40M investment

New gate protocols, 19 new pieces of snow-clearing equipment and bigger crews are some improvements made after last year's "Snowmageddon."

It's been almost a year since the holiday travel chaos at Vancouver International Airport (YVR), and the airport authority is determined to prevent a repeat of the debacle.

YVR announced Tuesday that it has invested more than $40 million to enhance its winter preparedness over the past year in anticipation of the winter season.

Operational improvements include new gate protocols that require aircraft to deplane passengers within 30 minutes of taxiing, additional airfield maintenance positions and bigger bridge and apron crews, and a new Airport Reservation Office to improve management of aircraft movements and airport flow.

YVR also invested in airfield snow and ice control measures and purchased 19 new pieces of snow-clearing equipment, including the Øverassen TV 1000+ Snowblower which has double the horsepower of snowblowers used last year. 

To upgrade traveller experience, YVR has added more staff throughout the terminal and introduced a new curbside greeting program to welcome arriving guests and provide accessibility support. Travellers can also stay informed and navigate the airport using the passenger journey platform or the revamped news page.

The airport is also using predictive analytics and digital tools to help anticipate higher staffing demands and improve its ability to track delayed baggage with real-time technology and data, according to the announcement.

There has been a significant increase in communication among YVR's partners and employees as well, said YVR, which includes revising the demand management program to help balance staffing levels with changing demands.

Last year's winter holiday season saw thousands of travellers experiencing flight cancellations and delays due to a severe winter storm, with some being stuck on a plane for more than 11 hours.

Airline executives and YVR CEO Tamara Vrooman were called to Ottawa to answer for the chaos and YVR held a public consultation about the experience earlier this year.

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