Victoria International Airport reopens after suspicious package forced YYJ closure

Operations at Victoria International Airport is back to normal after a suspicious package was found inside the departures terminal Tuesday.

The package contained inert military surplus explosives.

The incident forced flights to and from YYJ to be temporarily suspended for several hours. In total, about 20 flights from 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. were affected.

The Sidney North Saanich RCMP says officers responded around 1:30 p.m. after a bag went through security and a Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) worker saw two suspicious items.

“They conducted a brief investigation and immediately took the man who claimed responsibility for the bag into custody,” reads a statement from police.

An area of the airport was blocked off.

“As the investigation progressed, a second bag also belonging to the same individual was discovered, this bag could not safely be scanned or examined,” Mounties add.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and with consultation with both NavCan and Victoria Airport Authorities, it was decided that the departures wing would be temporarily closed to ensure the safety of the public.”

Members of the RCMP Explosives Disposal Unit removed and examined the bags, Mounties say, adding the team “quickly determined the items to be inert military surplus explosives.”

The Victoria International Airport has reopened for travel and there is no further threat to the public.

Police say the person who brought the bags and the items has been released and is expected in court. It’s unclear what they may be charged with.

“The RCMP is reminding travellers to confirm the items you are travelling with are permitted on aircraft or that you have prior permission to travel with certain items,” said Cpl. Andres Sanchez with the Sidney North Saanich RCMP.

The hours-long ordeal prompted the airport to urge travellers to avoid heading to YYJ, with passengers asked to check their flight status online.

Some flights, including an Air Canada plane from Calgary to Victoria, were diverted to Vancouver as a result of the situation.

In an earlier statement to CityNews, a Vancouver International Airport spokesperson said YVR staff were “monitoring the situation at YYJ and working with our partners to accommodate any diverted aircraft.”

Victoria International reopened for regular operations just before 9 p.m.

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