Passengers with their luggage wait outside the arrivals area at Victoria International Airport on Tuesday afternoon. A suspicious package found at the departures check-in area around 1:30 p.m. prompted the airport, in coordination with police, to cancel incoming and outgoing flights for the rest of the day until the package could be properly dealt with. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Passengers with their luggage wait outside the arrivals area at Victoria International Airport on Tuesday afternoon. A suspicious package found at the departures check-in area around 1:30 p.m. prompted the airport, in coordination with police, to cancel incoming and outgoing flights for the rest of the day until the package could be properly dealt with. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

UPDATE: Victoria airport back to normal operations after ‘incendiary item’ found Tuesday

Flights were cancelled over a six-hour span, many travellers headed for ferry terminal

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.

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.

ALSO READ: Victoria Airport Authority CEO says YYJ recovering better than many airports


 

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