Airport prepared for 2010 Olympics

New snowplows, a temporary departure terminal and hundreds of volunteers are part of Vancouver International Airport’s plans to deal with the crush of travellers expected during the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

RICHMOND, B.C. — New snowplows, a temporary departure terminal and hundreds of volunteers are part of Vancouver International Airport’s plans to deal with the crush of travellers expected during the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The airport has been working with airlines to streamline anything that could become a potential bottleneck next February and March, from snowbound runways to lost luggage.

Paul Levy, the airport authority’s vice-president for Olympic planning, said Tuesday the airport has colour-coded each day of January through March, with red considered an “all hands on deck” day.

“I can tell you there’s quite a few red days on our calendars right now,” he told reporters.

Officials expect the biggest crush of traffic to come after the Olympics wrap up.

Levy said airport officials from other Olympic cities have told their Vancouver counterparts that the arrival of athletes, media and spectators is spread out, but everyone wants to leave town about the same time.

“Our previous record for departing passengers, which was last August 2008, was approximately 26,000 passengers,” he said.

“We’re expecting to see on March 1, the day after the closing ceremonies, approximately 39,000 departing passengers that will be going out of this airport.”

Those travellers will be toting about 77,000 pieces of luggage, he added, noting Olympic athletes travel with six to seven bags, including oversized items of gear. The average flier carries less than two pieces.

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