With just two days of Christmas, many people on Vancouver Island take the plane or ferry to spend time with their families during the holiday season.
By midday Thursday, it was fairly quiet at Victoria International Airport, with most major passenger flights to destinations such as Toronto and Calgary leaving early in the morning. Victoria Airport Authority staff say air passenger traffic has increased since September 2021, but even in the days leading up to Christmas, air travel is down from pre-pandemic levels.
“December has been relatively good and I think everyone is happy to see passengers traveling,” said Rod Hunchak, director of business development and community relations for the Victoria Airports Authority.
“During this week, we have on average about 4,000 arriving and departing passengers, and that has been pretty consistent over the past few days.”
Hunchak says the last year the airport saw such a large number of passengers traveling there was in 2019. He says now, as more and more people choose to travel by air, the airport is a lot busier than it was in 2020.
He says despite the high transmission rate of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and BC health officials recommending people stay close to home, the airport has not seen large numbers of passengers cancel. their flights.
“People probably already had plans in place and it was really up to them to decide whether they were going to continue their travels or not,” Hunchak said. “Previously, when we had ads like this, it wasn’t that close to the holidays. This time around, it was pretty uncertain how the holiday season would go this year. “
Hunchak said the Victoria Airport Authority was increasing cleaning and disinfection of all touch points within the airport to minimize the spread of COVID-19. He says the airport has had a policy of mandatory mask use inside the terminal for some time. All people over 12 years old must be fully immunized to travel by air to Canada.
Meanwhile, at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal, travelers are rushing through the Greater Vancouver area and other parts of British Columbia.
The ferry operator has added a number of additional sailings to its busiest crossings, including the route from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen. He says if you need to take a ferry during the holiday season, it is advisable to make a reservation.
“If you are traveling without a reservation, we would expect to have wait times during peak hours,” said Deborah Marshall, executive director of public affairs for BC Ferries.
“What we find during the holiday period is a period of about 10 days when traffic is busy from the 23rd to New Years.”
Marshall says passengers traveling on BC Ferries should wear masks in public areas of terminals and on board a ferry. She says BC Ferries has also increased cleaning and disinfection across the company’s entire fleet.
“We remind customers that if you feel sick, please stay home,” she said.
Staff at BC Ferries and the Victoria Airport Authority say they are advising people to give themselves more time to get to their destinations to avoid additional stress while traveling during the Christmas season.