Toronto Pearson sees ‘measurable improvement’ after weeks of delays

The headaches and travel turbulence that have become commonplace in recent months at Canada’s busiest airport appear to be turning around.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), the organization that oversees the operations of the Toronto Pearson International Airport, held a press conference on Friday to update the public on the progress of the transit hub.

“In fact, we are far from the finish line, but the actions of the GTAA, the federal government, agencies, airlines and many other partners working together in concert are having a positive impact,” said the president and CEO. of GTAA, Deborah Flint.

Flint said the airport has seen “measurable” operational improvements in recent weeks after a increase in travel demand caused by the lifting of public health restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those improvements are being seen specifically in metrics related to security wait times, flight delays, cancellations, and baggage delivery.

According to Flint, data from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), which screens passengers before boarding at the airport, shows that 82 percent of passengers who boarded a flight last week passed security at less than 15 minutes.

That’s a one percentage point improvement over the moving average of the past four weeks, which Flint says is due in part to CATSA hiring “hundreds” of new employees.

Flight delays at Pearson They’re shrinking too, GTAA says, if only a little.

A man wearing a mask and full face shield speaks on the phone at Toronto Pearson International Airport on June 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Flint said that as of last week, 44 percent of all flights were on time. While he admits this isn’t a number the GTAA would normally tout as a hit, Flint said it’s a “substantial” improvement on last month’s statistic of 35 percent.

Passengers recently arriving at Pearson from overseas travel may have been asked to wait on the tarmac due to customs delays. Flint said the process is also seeing improvement due to an increase in the number of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers at the border.

Last week, only 19 planes were held up on arrival due to queues in the customs hall. In July, the moving average number of aircraft held was 60 per week.

Flint also credited the “streamlining of the ArriveCAN app” as part of the reason planes stop on the tarmac less often. Earlier this week, Pearson touted the app’s new advance declaration feature, which allows travelers to submit their immigration and customs information up to 72 hours before arrival, as an effective way to save time.

Meanwhile, wait times at the baggage carousel also appear to be decreasing.

Flint said domestic passengers waited an average of 24 minutes for their belongings after the flight. That’s three minutes less than they expected last month.

Bags also return to their owners three minutes faster for international travelers and four minutes faster for cross-border passengers.

The GTAA said it will have the metrics discussed during Friday’s press conference. publicly available in the coming weeks and months as a way to provide passengers with an “at-a-glance resource” of airport operations.

Also, travelers can access interactive infographics and a “rush hour panel” to help them navigate the airport as more and more people flock to take a trip.

And while the message delivered by Flint on Friday was overwhelmingly positive, no future operational goals were mentioned in the progress update.

Still, Flint said she and her team are “committed” to providing the “best experience for Canadians and international travelers,” despite the Wall Street Journal last month naming it the world’s worst airport for delays. .

“We will continue with the solution. To be persistent, to continue to innovate, to create new opportunities and solutions, not only to get back to where we were, but to create the opportunity for the airport of the future,” said Flint.

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