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Okay it was cold, -24C, and a little windy, but is that all it took to bring down YYZ this morning ?

Toronto Star

WestJet looks to charter planes to clear backlog

Vanessa Lu, Business reporter, Published on Tue Jan 07 2014



The deep freeze is wreaking havoc for air travellers, especially for passengers at Toronto’s Pearson airport, which halted planes from landing Tuesday morning.


The ground stop, which was lifted mid-morning, was prompted by bitter cold and wind chills that caused equipment to freeze and put workers at risk on icy ramps.


WestJet Airlines spokesman Robert Palmer says the airline has cancelled 86 flights in and out of Toronto since Monday, and that number is likely to increase as the day goes on.


“It’s changing by the hour,” he said in a telephone interview. “We have 4,500 guests who are not where they are supposed to be, and we have many guests who do not have their luggage.”


The backlog is continuing to grow – causing ripple effects across the country – since Toronto is WestJet’s busiest hub.


The airline is now looking at chartering aircraft and pilots to help move passengers and clear the backlog.


“We are exploring the opportunity to charter aircraft,” Palmer said. “That’s how serious this is, to rent planes and pilots to get people where they need to be as quickly and safely as possible.”


Even if WestJet manages to secure other planes, the aircraft likely wouldn’t arrive in Toronto before Tuesday night or early Wednesday.


“At this point, we don’t know if we can. We are looking at it as an option,” Palmer said.


“You can’t pick up the phone and order up a plane and have it delivered to you like a pizza in 45 minutes.” he said.


Palmer said as planes were landing at Pearson, there simply were not enough gates available to unload passengers and their bags.


Some WestJet passengers waited more than three hours on the tarmac for gates.


When a gate became available, passengers were unloaded, but bags remained on board, as the priority was move more planes to gates to unload passengers.


“There is a finite number of gates,” Palmer said. “It’s a painstakingly slow process. Our priority at the time was to get people off the aircraft who had been sitting there the longest.”


Air Canada also warned its passengers that winter storm conditions in eastern Canada and the U.S. northeast are impacting its operations, resulting in cancelled and delayed flights to and from: Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and U.S. northeast airports.


Porter Airlines also reported some cancellations at Toronto’s island airport, saying the extremely low temperatures have affected equipment and “we must ensure those working outside are able to operate safely.”

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I had a delicious $14 breakfast sandwich. Tipped $2. Gotta pay for the ipad at every seat somehow I guess? It kills me how every airline is laser focussed on cutting costs and Pearson is putting in fr

This is SOUTHERN ONTARIO, Not Edmonton or Brandon or Pickle Lake. This weather was recod setting for Southern Ontario. in some places ALL of the roads were closed to traffic. In my area, s short ho

I think that the ground stop was a group decision.

"A little windy" doesn't cover it when the temp is this low and the wind this strong.... It bites through whatever protection you don.... and then some.

Well I flew in the arctic for almost 15 years, -24C and 30 knots was a "warm" day in January.

Now this is a what you might call a little windy (from 20 minutes ago) ....

CYFB 072300Z 05058G76KT 1/8SM R35/2000FT/N -SN +BLSN VV000 M11/M13 A2832 RMK BLSN8 PRESFR SLP595

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Well I flew in the arctic for almost 15 years, -24C and 30 knots was a "warm" day in January.

... and I'll wager you (and those working the ramp) were somewhat better prepared for that weather than the average rampie in YYZ.

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... and I'll wager you (and those working the ramp) were somewhat better prepared for that weather than the average rampie in YYZ.

That, unfortunately, is the reality Mitch. When you're used to it, it's no big deal. Many of us had been used to it and when faced with it years later, adapt easily.

There were times at CYMX during my C3 days where the tugs without chains ended up being moved by the sliding aircraft. Then there is the airport designer that built the ramps with a down-gradient to the gate meaning a brutal push back without those chains...

Throw in the high capacity of CYYZ and things can come to a stop pretty fast. No airplanes out always means no airplanes in when you have "just in time" gates.

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Exactly Moon..... Heck, I know I've worked outside in worse conditions [up on the "patio" of a darling diesel, changing a CSD, for instance], but you do HAVE to be prepared.... Being dressed for the usual worst we see in YYZ isn't going to cut it in Igloolik (or whatever they call those frozen places nowadays) like weather.

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To err on the side of safety is never a mistake. It is a very slippery slope when it comes to liability. Slippery ramp too. Would we rather ground stop a bunch of flights or have a bunch of people slide off the end of a runway in a big metal tube. Judging by my drive home yesterday (I had to stop because I couldnt see any further than my windshield wipers) They did the right thing.

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Would we rather ground stop a bunch of flights or have a bunch of people slide off the end of a runway in a big metal tube.

If you did go off the end of a runway in a big metal tube better hope you can stay in in that tube and it can stay warm until help and transportation gets there.

An evacuation at the far end of the field could turn into a disaster in the prevailing temps given the clothing people would likely be in at the bottom of an escape slide. (Especially the clothing some folks travel home in from the sunny south :glare:).

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Well my WJ flight was only 1.5 hours late with no delay after arrival. But my next flight was 6 hours late with about 3 of those due to the poor fuelman not wanting to get his tender tootsies cold.

If you have an outdoor job then be prepared for outdoor weather. I worked outside in colder areas as well. Ever heard of long underwear, windpants, a parka and a face mask. Wore them all and had big boots and big mitts on standby for cold days if needed. You are actually quite warm in them. And wear them in layers that can easily come come off when you go inside or start loading. Why should thousands of people be delayed because others can't prepare which by the way included delayed connecting flights at destination..

If you can't handle the cold, get out of the freezer.

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This is SOUTHERN ONTARIO, Not Edmonton or Brandon or Pickle Lake. This weather was recod setting for Southern Ontario. in some places ALL of the roads were closed to traffic. In my area, s short hop from Pearson we were told not to drive. My access to get to the airport was CLOSED to all traffic due to prevailing conditions. fortunately I can do my job from home. It is hard to be prepared for a once in DECADES event. Sorry you were late but you can take that of with Mother Nature herself.

The weather was such that the windchills would cause frostbite on exposed skin in around 5 minutes. I can attest that the winds around the aircraft especially when loading or fueling are even nastier. I worked air side at Pearson for 20+ years and this has to be the coldest I have ever seen it in that time. Give the guys a break.

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The ramp conditions were bad. Ice all over the place. Taxiways were the same. Anything that was moving was doing so in slow motion. Manpower was almost non existent. It was taking so long to turn a flight that the gate wasn't available fir the next arrival. The manpower. What little there was were still tied up as well. The dominos were falling as fast as the temp. If the ramp hadn't been covered in ice and there had been sufficient manpower it would have been a cold night at work with some delays but not the s#^t show it turned into

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comparing operations at Pearson to operations in the "High Acrtic" is plain silly. When you have but a feww flights a day to contend with, dealing with issues like this is easy. When youa re dealing with HUNDREDS it gets a little more complicated. People in the Arctic or even Winnipeg are prepared for this type of weather because they have it for 4 or more months a year. Capital expenditures on "Specialized" equipment for a weather event like this at pearson would cost the airlines and airport autorities millions and my not be used for 10-20-30 years. If this were to become more frequent with "Climate Change" then maybe but until then it is just an isolated weather event and operational anomaly.

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"It will be a good day when the media stops going to Rick Erickson for quotes on anything airline related."

I find airline "experts" leave a lot to be desired. Mr Erickson seems to be a little more operational savy than this guy [who seems to talk alot without saying anything]

http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/FacultyAndResearch/Faculty/FacultyBios/DCruz.aspx

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"It will be a good day when the media stops going to Rick Erickson for quotes on anything airline related."

I find airline "experts" leave a lot to be desired. Mr Erickson seems to be a little more operational savy than this guy [who seems to talk alot without saying anything]

http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/FacultyAndResearch/Faculty/FacultyBios/DCruz.aspx

You are so bang on here. D'Cruz is an educated guy who does not seem real smart.

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