April 2, 2020
Report by Henry Tenby
As a Vancouver based aviation enthusiast with interest in the aviation hobby and business dating back to at least 1967, I was curious as to how the effects of the deepening COVID crisis were impacting our local airport. Usually a hotbed of flight activity in normal times, with loads of flights from Asia coming and going on a daily basis, I wanted to see just how much things were wound down at YVR.
So I ventured out to YVR on the afternoon of April 2, 2020, and arrived at the main terminal around 5pm. The video report above documents exactly what I observed, and to put it bluntly, the airport is a dead zone. I also went to the south side of the airport to have a look at the scene for the third level commuters and the South Terminal, and the situation over there was much the same. Within 24 hours of uploading my report video it had garnered about 1,000 views, which for me is a hell of a lot of views as my aviation videos will typically generate maybe a few hundred views within the first few weeks of posting.
Several people took the time to share their thoughts with me. And I am going to share them here in the spirit of providing an historical reference to this situation at empty airports all around the world. Let us pray that the situation will not last for more than a few months.
Ron Kosys. – Coventry UK
Somewhat disappointing to see. It brings it home to me that it isn’t just the UK aviation industry suffering at the moment. I haven’t been to BHX since the stay at home restrictions were brought in, but BHX is worse than a ghost town. Britain’s second city in terms of population airport (but less busy than MAN due to its geographical location) is now down to THREE flights per day – one Lingus, one Ryanair (both Dublin), KLM (obviously Amsterdam), and a fourth three days a week – Qatar. And that’s your lot.
Lingus are rumoured to be operating it’s last flight tomorrow as was KLM – however KLM have now requested slots for an Embraer everyday next week rather than a 737. Another business – the Airport Authority itself – that could see itself asking for a bailout. The only other flying business is a couple of freighters a day, both of which bring in spares and supplies for the NHS. You no doubt saw it on the BBC online news that ground handling companies are all in dire trouble. If they fail, especially Swissport, we’re stuffed.
The former Flybe engineering hangar is now being converted into a morgue. Consequently you simply cannot get near the old side (cargo) now, it being heavily Policed after the press shot a stack of images from the car park the other day of vehicles going in and out, and published the lot. It’s almost as though the press have a campaign of trying to frighten a proportion of the population to death.
A Motor Sich An12 was due on Wednesday, slipped to Thursday, and then Friday before arriving in the dark last night. It left as soon as the airport re-opened this morning (it’s closed overnight now due lack of traffic), also in the dark since the clocks changed. Unless you ‘bent the rules’, time it right, and went to the park at the 15 end photography now at BHX is currently not really an option. It would be just my luck for me to be the one who gets checked whilst out getting my ‘daily exercise’. I do photography for the pleasure, not for the hassle. I forgot to ask Henry, I presume there’s a gaggle of Pacific Coastal at YVR as well?
As each day goes by it appears more and more that this sad situation is going to be with us for more than a couple of months. In order for things to start getting back on their feet, the UK needs other European countries to start improving at the same time. And when that time does come, how many airlines would have bitten the dust in the meantime?
Terry Rea – Vancouver, BC
Just watched your sad but current video of our present day situation @ YVR – sad times for the city and all our YVR staff. I just retired recently after my 52 year career starting with YVR-S Airport Control Tower – trainee. It was August 1967 @ Age 18 just finished High School (PW) at my first job and loving it ! Worked the Viscounts, Vanguards, DC4s, DC6s, Super-Connies, Electras, and the UA brand new B727-100, QF B707, etc! 52 years later still enjoyed working our YVR air traffic in our present, the 3rd, ATC Control Tower!
This reminded me of my shift on 9/11; we landed many a/c @ YVR with the FAA-mandated deviations, eventually closing our N Rwy to be used for aircraft parking. We then had to take care of thousands Pax and Crew on a moment’s notice – converted our new Parkade to an emergency care center providing food, water, blankets etc while we waited for advice on what to expect next! My midnite shift next day was eerily strange, with only 1 departure the whole shift – a LR35 Medevac – 3 days later we resumed operations best we could – it was controlled chaos after 3 days of strange emptiness, such as we have now.
Things will eventually normalize but its gonna be a rough ride for the Aviation Industry for a while. What a change from last year when we were setting traffic records. Take care and stay safe!
Kevin Hickey – Calgary, Canada
Very sad footage Henry. I walked through the YYC terminal last week and it was a ghost town as well. I saw the occasional bored staff member walking around and that was it.
It also looks like a Westjet graveyard here with multiple airplanes scattered all over the aprons, taxiways, and even on runway 08/26. It almost looks like they went out of business and all of the planes are taped and sealed up, including the 767s.
Flying in here is extremely quiet on the radio now and we are constantly being given all kinds of unusual shortcuts. The sky is empty. Edmonton has some Swoops and Flairs that look like they’re going to be sitting for a while as well, about two tails each from what I could see. Hopefully this is the last time that we witness anything like this.