More flights, more lineups at Whitehorse airport

More flight activity at the Whitehorse airport this summer means some passengers are waiting in line longer than usual for check-in and security, prompting one airline to warn its customers to arrive early.

Air North cautions 'high degree of airport activity' could mean 'unusually high airport congestion'

Passengers waiting to collect luggage at the Erik Nielsen International Airport in Whitehorse. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

It's a busy summer at the Erik Nielsen International Airport in Whitehorse and with more flights come more line-ups. 

Kim Sinclair is the owner of an airport shuttle service. He has been keeping an eye on the increased activity.  

"Last summer was the busiest ever but this summer is dwarfing last summer," he said. 

"It's definitely the busiest summer ever," said Kim Sinclair, owner of Whitehorse Shuttle Services. "It's pretty crazy here, lots more planes." (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)
"Times have changed. There's a lot more planes coming and going so security has a bigger line up ... It's the same thing for the front desk going to get your ticket."

He figures there's an additional 20-30 flights a week including departures and arrivals. It's a change many Yukoners aren't used to according to Sinclair. 

The increased activity has prompted one airline to issue a warning with its tickets. 

"In light of a high degree of airport activity, there is a chance of unusually high airport congestion," Air North advises.

"Please ensure that you arrive at the airport sufficiently early to allow for longer-than-usual wait times at check-in and security checkpoints."

Airport manager Robert Manlig agrees arriving early is a good idea although he notes it's not always been the practice for Yukoners to show up 60 or 90 minutes before a flight.

"Things are changing now so the airport is running more efficiently, like an airport down south. We're asking passengers to come in earlier," he said.

Manlig said airport congestion is worst in the early mornings.

"Air Canada has increased their flights considerably ... one or two flights more than what they do in the winter, West Jet is in, obviously, in the summer, Condor is back again with us on Sundays and Air North has increased their flights as well."

In addition to more passengers and congestion, there are also construction crews at the airport working on renovations.  

Passengers wait in line to pass through security amidst the construction at the Whitehorse airport. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)
A new gift shop is open, the security screening area is being expanded, a new lounge is almost complete, as well as new washrooms and office space. 

Although the initial completion date was expected in June, Manlig said he expects the work will be complete in August. 

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