The Victoria International Airport (YYJ) has returned to regular operations after a suspicious package and the subsequent police response on Tuesday caused about 20 flights to be cancelled.
An incendiary item and inert surplus military supplies were found in checked baggage, the airport said in a Tuesday night update.
The items were in a safe location and didn’t pose a risk to public safety, Sidney/North Saanich RCMP Cpl. Andres Sanchez said Tuesday evening. They were set to be dealt with that evening by a specialized unit.
The airport fully reopened and welcomed arrivals by approximately 8:30 p.m. on May 24.
The 20 shuttered flights were between 2:30 and 8:30 p.m. Travellers are advised to confirm their flight’s status with their airline and to check the airport’s website (victoriairport.com), which appeared to be down as of early Wednesday morning.
Police first responded to a call about a mysterious package at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday (May 24), and by about 3 p.m. all incoming and outgoing flights had been cancelled out of an abundance of caution, which police said took some time given it is an international airport.
The Victoria Airport Authority was advising travellers to avoid the airport shortly after the situation was determined to be potentially unsafe, and to check in with their carriers about flight information, but many passengers looking to board afternoon flights had already arrived or didn’t hear the warning.
⚠️1/2The RCMP is responding to call for service at YYJ. The airport is closing to commercial flights. We are asking travellers not to come to the airport at this time and to please check your flight status with your carrier or our website. #yyj #yyjops— Victoria Int Airport (@Fly_YYJ) May 24, 2022
Update: 1/2 Victoria Airport Authority is continuing to cooperate fully with the RCMP as they respond to this call for service. The airlines are working with their operations teams to determine the status of flights. #yyj #yyjops— Victoria Int Airport (@Fly_YYJ) May 24, 2022
Kitchener, Ont. resident Michael Parkinson and his daughter had gone through security already when they learned about their flight cancellation but previously noticed what Parkinson called an unusual police presence at around 2 p.m. in the departures area.
As their airline (Flair) does not fly again until Saturday, they planned to look for a flight out of Vancouver to be able to get home sooner so Parkinson’s daughter can make her scheduled work shifts this week.
“We’re a bit stuck for sure,” he said. As for the security and the cancellations, he added, “I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
Calgary resident Colleen Kenney found out at roughly 4:30 p.m. that her flight home was cancelled and was told her flight landed in Vancouver and that no further flights were coming into Victoria airport that evening. She seemed to take the situation in stride.
“It’s not great, but these days with air travel there’s always something, you get used to it,” she said. “We’re going to find a restaurant and a place to stay and try to rebook our flight for tomorrow.”
BC Ferries earlier reported some availability on its Tuesday evening sailings departing Swartz Bay, as passengers scrambled to make connecting flights. Many in the air terminal late Tuesday afternoon were talking about changing their plans and heading for the ferries.
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