Ineffective Aircraft Deicing Fluid Below -29 C: WestJet, Calgary Airport |

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For the fourth day in a row, delays and cancellations wreaked havoc at several Canadian airports.

Both airlines and airports pointed to freezing temperatures in Alberta and snow in BC as the main culprits, as the conditions created challenges for ground crews, delayed operations and grounded flights.

Read more:

Chaos continues at airports in western Canada. What can stranded passengers do?

WestJet also attributed aircraft deicing fluid limitations as a factor.

In an email to Global News on Wednesday morning, WestJet spokesman Morgan Bell put the “deicer limitations at -29C.”

“Thawing during extremely cold temperatures and simultaneous active precipitation poses significant challenges,” WestJet spokeswoman Denise Kenny explained in a post-update on Wednesday. “There are two types of deicing fluid used on aircraft: Type 1 and Type 4.

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“Type 1 fluid is effective in removing snow and ice from the exterior of an aircraft and can be used at temperatures below -40 degrees Celsius. Type 4 is an anti-icing fluid that prevents precipitation from adhering to the treated surface, however its minimum usable temperature is -29 degrees Celsius.

“Certain regions in western Canada are experiencing active precipitation amid extremely cold temperatures, adding additional layers of complexity to aircraft departure de-icing requirements and slowing down the overall process,” Kenny said.

The entire province of Alberta was under an extreme cold warning Wednesday, with wind chill values ​​of -40 or colder expected for most of the week. Much of BC was also under extreme cold warnings Wednesday as snow, extreme cold and arctic winds grip western Canada.

Read more:

BC researcher says airplane windshields and wings could easily thaw

“At temperatures up to and below minus 29 degrees Celsius, anti-icing fluid is no longer effective,” said Stephanie Harris, a Calgary International Airport spokeswoman.

“This slightly delayed some flights last night and today (Wednesday), which did not cause major impact or concern in the operation.”

The anti-icing fluid went into effect at 10:24 a.m. Wednesday, he said.

Click to play video: 'Union concerned about changes in melt at YYC airport'

Union concerned about changes in melting at YYC airport

Even at 4 pm Calgary was -28 C with no wind chill.

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“Through the Calgary Glycol and Fuel consortium, airlines secure de-icing services and decide to de-ice based on weather conditions at YYC,” Harris added.

“AeroMag is the main supplier selected for [centralized] deicing services.”

Edmonton International Airport also uses AeroMag.

The temperature in Edmonton on Wednesday morning was -34 C without taking wind chill into account.

“In terms of aircraft de-icing fluid at Edmonton International Airport, the product application threshold is -29C for Type 4 with snow,” said Megan Hall, a spokeswoman for the airport.

“When temperatures drop below the -29°C range, Type 1 utilization (which is a two-step process with a remaining application time) is employed.”

Wind chill does not take into account temperature calculations, he said.

Read more:

Arctic air mass breaks cold weather records in Alberta

Hall said security remains the airport’s priority.

“As a winter airport, we plan and practice for different situations to ensure the safety and efficiency of our passengers and staff.”

A statement from Air Canada suggests that nearly 600 of its flights have not been completed in the last five days.

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About 935 Air Canada flights depart every day around the world, it said, with a “well above” 98 percent flight completion rate since early December.

But in the past five days, the rate has dropped to 87.25 percent, the statement said, citing storms in Ontario and BC.

Air Canada said Vancouver airport remained “in a recovery situation” on Wednesday. The airline “implemented an extended goodwill policy so that people traveling to and from Vancouver from December 20 to 25 can rebook free of charge through December 31 or receive a coupon for future travel.

Air Canada said travelers should rebook online if their flight is cancelled, while WestJet is offering full refunds to passengers who choose to proactively cancel.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver International Airport resumes travel, limits international arrivals after snow storm'

Vancouver International Airport resumes travel and limits international arrivals after a snowstorm

A WestJet statement shows that 130 flights on Wednesday have been canceled so far, out of 563 originally scheduled flights.

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It said 240 flights were grounded Tuesday due to disruptions in Vancouver along with freezing temperatures in Calgary and Edmonton, while 250 flights were canceled on Sunday and Monday.

A statement from the Vancouver airport says it halted all international arrivals for about 48 hours to deal with “congestion” caused by 10 inches of snow on Tuesday.

The restriction, which affects 17 airlines and approximately 30 flights, will be lifted at 5 a.m. Friday.

Read more:

Vancouver International Airport ground stop lifted, but incoming international flights limited

Vancouver airport officials issued another statement later Tuesday, saying improving weather and the work of crews cleaning runways have allowed an increase in takeoffs and landings. But delays and cancellations are expected to continue, he said.

The statement from Vancouver International Airport acknowledges that stopping international arrivals until two days before Christmas will be a blow.

“We fully recognize the impact this will have on individuals and families during the holiday season. However, the congestion caused by the storms on Tuesday makes this action necessary,” he said.

A significant number of planes remain at the airport, causing congestion at its airfield, airport officials said in their subsequent statement.

Click to play video: 'Frustration among air travelers as Toronto Pearson Airport braces for storm and busy travel days ahead'

Frustration among air travelers as Toronto Pearson Airport braces for the storm and busy travel days ahead

Another major winter storm is expected to hit the Toronto area later this week through the holiday weekend. Toronto Pearson International Airport is now warning that a storm is approaching that could further derail travel.

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At Pearson, officials are advising travelers to check with their airline because airport operations could be affected by a forecast storm arriving Thursday and could cause flash freezing or blizzard conditions the next day.

Read more:

Flight delays and cancellations paralyze Alberta’s two major airports

WestJet has released information for guests who have had their flights cancelled.

The airline also said that it is “adequately staffed for the holiday travel season and that our teams at the airport are working as quickly as possible to assist all affected passengers.”

“Ongoing extreme cold weather warnings impacting Alberta and extended snow and weather events forecast for BC regions…. they are having a severe impact not only on our operations, but also on our staff and service partners who are battling freezing temperatures and extreme weather,” Bell said.

“In Vancouver today and just last night, the weather prevented many of our employees and service partners from being able to get to work safely. Additionally, severe weather impacts continue to be a challenge as we work to stabilize our operations and ease mandatory crew rest requirements for safety.”

Air Canada also said it spent a lot of time preparing for the winter, including hiring.

“Air Canada’s planned schedule for this quarter is 85 percent of the same time in 2019, before the pandemic. We currently have about 35,600 employees, about 1,000 more than we had then,” an airline spokesman said on Wednesday.

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— with archives from The Canadian Press

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