The airline says multiple days of frigid temperatures in the Prairies are having a “compounding” impact on operations.
Frigid temperatures continue to challenge crews, create ‘compounding’ impactsCBC News
· Posted: Jan 13, 2024 2:26 PM EST | Last Updated: January 14
A de-icing station sprays a WestJet Airlines Boeing 737 jetliner prior to its departure at the international airport in Calgary. Frigid temperatures have rendered de-icing fluid ineffective across most of the Prairies. (Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press)WestJet says multiple days of frigid temperatures in the Prairies are having a “compounding” impact on operations.
The airline was forced to cancel at least 120 flights on Sunday. It has cancelled at least 464 flights since Thursday, according to a post on the company’s website.
Extreme cold rendered de-icing fluid ineffective in some western Canadian cities for the second morning in a row, said WestJet public relations strategist Madison Kruger.
“Our crews are working overtime, our equipment is in the cold,” she said. “These flights are all interconnected. It’s an interconnected network.
“So when you get to your fourth day of this, and you never fully are able to recover your operation from the first day, the impacts just continue to grow.”
WestJet did manage to recover several aircraft left stranded by the weather across their network, added Kruger, which “put [the airline] in a better position.”
She also said the airline is mandating crew rests to keep employees safe while operating in the bitter cold.
Passengers travelling from the Calgary International Airport should check the status of their flights before leaving their homes, said the airport authority. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)WestJet also announced flexible flight change and cancellation guidelines for guests travelling to or from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
But because of the delays and cancellations, the airline’s contact centre is running high wait times, said Kruger.
“Guests are obviously looking for re-accommodation options,” she said. “We don’t have imminent opportunity to reschedule them on a flight that’s likely within their window.”
The airline is asking guests not to contact them unless they’re within 72 hours of their flight’s scheduled departure.
When asked how their operations have been affected by the frigid temperatures, Air Canada told CBC News on Saturday that, to deal with the impacts of the weather, they have put a flexible rebooking policy in place so customers can change travel plans without paying additional fees.
The Calgary Airport Authority is advising passengers to check the status of their flights before leaving for the airport and to give themselves extra time to adjust to changing circumstances and delays on the roads and at the airport.
“Working in extreme weather conditions poses its own challenges. Prolonged extreme weather events locally and around the country can result in delays,” an authority spokesperson wrote in an email to CBC News.
With files from Tim Devlin