British Columbia

Holiday travel through Vancouver's airport down as much as 90 per cent, officials say

Officials at Vancouver International Airport say only 10 to 15 per cent of the usual number of holiday travellers are passing through this year, due to the pandemic.

Around 100,000 passengers pass through the international airport on a normal day around Christmas

A traveller stands outside at Vancouver International Airport on Saturday. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Officials at Vancouver International Airport say only 10 to 15 per cent of the usual number of holiday travellers are passing through this year because of COVID-19 travel restrictions and the threat of infection.

A normal holiday day at the airport would see around 100,000 passengers.

The unusually quiet state of the normally bustling airport is a result of travel restrictions that limit non-essential travel and require a 14-day quarantine for anyone coming into Canada.

Jack Kim was one of the few people arriving at YVR on Saturday.

He flew to Canada from Amsterdam to see his family, but had doubts about his decision to travel as cases of COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the world.

"Yeah I did, but I don't know when I'm going to get to see my family again, that's why," he said.

He said he plans to quarantine for 14 days and follow all regulations.

Holiday travel through Vancouver's airport is down as much as 90 per cent, officials say. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Other travellers at the airport said they were travelling for reasons such as having a student permit expire. Others said they felt it was safe to travel as long as they followed regulations.

Officials including B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry are warning against holiday travel.

Even though limited air travel is allowed with certain caveats such as wearing masks and abiding by local rules, it is not without risks.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has listed dozens of exposure events on flights to Vancouver from within Canada and around the world. 

Aviation experts say the pandemic has left airports and airlines scrambling to stay financially viable. 

In September the Vancouver Airport Authority pulled the plug on some major infrastructure projects, because of the ongoing decline in air travel caused by the pandemic.

Travel between Canada and the U.K. was further impacted Sunday when Canada joined several European nations by halting flights from the U.K. in an effort to prevent a new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus from spreading to this country.

With files from Jon Hernandez

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