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‘Stressful’: Victoria International Airport bracing for the holiday surge

Between 5,000 and 7,000 people are expected to pass through the airport during holidays
Victoria International Airport is almost back to pre-pandemic levels of travel, said Rod Hunchak, and is sitting at 90 per cent of what it was in 2019. (Black Press Media file photo)

Unwrap your presents before going through security to make a smoother trip through the airport, says Rod Hunchak, director of business development and community relations at Victoria International Airport.

Airport security might be required to unwrap your present because they might need to look at something, so it is better to check in these items, Hunchak said.

“Even after a year of not having COVID restrictions, people may have forgotten about prohibited items,” he said. “Something as simple as a water bottle or other items. Just make sure what you’re putting in your carry-on is allowed. “

Victoria International Airport has yet to get back to pre-pandemic levels, but sits at 1,602,446 passengers, which is about 90 per cent of what it was in 2019, said Hunchak.

Our numbers are certainly strong. And we’re very optimistic that full recovery will occur by the end of 2024,” he said.

The airport will either be the first part of the journey for travellers or the last stop, as Victoria International Airport does not have to connect flights leaving to go somewhere else, said Hunchak.

“We’re known as an origin and destination airport. So, for the most part for people in Victoria, it is either the start of their journey or the end,” he said. “A lot of folks are reconnecting with friends and family from other parts of Canada. And vice versa.”

“A lot of folks are reconnecting with friends and family from other parts of Canada. And vice versa.”

The airport will be open for the entire holiday period but expect Dec. 22 to 23 to be the busiest. Traditionally, this is when most people will be flying. Still, it can vary depending on when in the week Christmas Day will fall, said Hunchak.

“On those busy days between Dec. 22 and 23, we probably see between 5,000 and 7,000 people pass through the airport,” he said.

Getting to the airport during the holiday season can be very stressful, and Hunchak said he advises that people leave earlier than they usually do to ensure they arrive on time for the flight.

“Ultimately, Christmas travel can be stressful certainly, when you’re trying to find a parking stall. We just opened an expanded part of our parking. We have 300 additional spots available this year.”

It is beneficial to look at alternatives to driving and parking at the airport, he said, as taking an Uber, taxi or even public transit is a better option.

“People may choose a more stress-free way to get to the airport, which would be taking an Uber or getting dropped off. But the key message is to give yourself plenty of time.”

READ MORE: Vancouver Island residents share their best Christmas memories

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