whYWG?: How we juggle 100 passenger flights a day

March 27, 2024

Categories: At YWG

Have you ever wondered what happens behind the arrivals and departures screens at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport during peak travel seasons? This year’s spring break saw nearly 100 passenger flights land and take off from YWG each day. With 19 boarding gates available at the terminal, finding a place to put all those planes resembles a Tetris-like dance involving meticulous planning, non-stop communication and quick decision-making.

The day before a scheduled flight, Resource Allocators in the Airport Operations Centre assign a boarding gate to each plane using what’s called a spot chart, a visual representation of all the parking positions at YWG complete with dates and times. A close eye is always kept on the chart, with team members ready to react and reassign if something disrupts the regular flow of operations.

"The unknowns are the most difficult part of the job,” said Leah Schneider, who oversees the Airport Operations Centre. “Weather delays and flight diversions have to be handled on the fly, sometimes with only 30 minutes notice." 

Centrally located in North America under major international flight paths, YWG is always prepared to handle flights that need to divert due to medical emergencies on board or weather. In some cases, the planes changing course are so unique to Winnipeg that they can only use certain boarding gates due to their sheer size. The Resource Allocators' expertise and adaptability allow them to quickly juggle things around so everything fits while at the same time ensuring airlines remain grouped together to efficiently service their aircraft without having to move equipment back and forth.

Communication is the lifeblood of the Airport Operations Centre. It requires mastering a whole new language of acronyms and protocols. Schneider points out that new Resource Allocator recruits start their journey on the quieter night shift, where they learn the intricacies of planning boarding gate schedules before stepping into bigger responsibilities. Team members maintain an ongoing stream of communication with our airport partners, such as coordinating with airline crews managing passenger services and handling baggage. But the role of the Resource Allocators doesn’t end there. On top of boarding gate assignments, they also supervise inbound and outbound baggage carousels, oversee check-in counters, and juggle numerous tasks crucial to maintaining the airport's seamless operation. 

WhYWG? offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how YWG operates, giving insight into what you might experience when travelling through the airport. Curious about something in particular? Send us your question on social media! 

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