Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.
Another day, another delay.
Toronto Pearson’s pain points are making headlines again this week as the overwhelmed facility once again claimed the top spot for flight delays on Tuesday (July 5), according to flight tracking company FlightAware.
Pearson, which has been ground zero for disrupted flight schedule, long lines and misplaced luggage for several weeks now, was the sole airport across the globe this week to see more than half of departures delayed.
It’s not the first time either that YYZ has ranked among the world’s worst: last Sunday (July 3), over the Canada Day long weekend, more than 53 per cent of flights scheduled to take off from Pearson were delayed.
READ MORE: Canadian airports, airlines top global list of delays; Pearson second-worst offender on earth
That marked the highest percentage of delayed flights reported in every major city on the planet, except for one: Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in China.
That same day, Montreal–Trudeau International Airport came in tenth after a computer system failure linked to baggage check-in forced a manual processing of luggage, the airport authority confirmed in an email to the Canadian Press yesterday.
What's being done
It’s been a gong show at airports around the world as air passengers face endless queues, luggage halls lined with piles of unclaimed suitcases and communication breakdowns with carriers over altered itineraries.
In Canada, which is experiencing a surge in demand for air travel, the Government of Canada has outlined actions being taken to bring on more employees and to bolster operations to better respond to the challenges.
Since April, roughly 1,200 CATSA screening officers have been hired across Canada, the federal government noted in am update on Wednesday (July 6).
“With this, the number of screening officers at Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport is now over 100 per cent of the targeted requirements for this summer based on projected traffic,” federal officials said.
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which oversees Pearson airport, is working with CBSA to make available additional kiosks and eGates at customs hall areas.
READ MORE: Air Canada to reduce summer flight schedule: "Regrettably, things are not business as usual”
Mandatory random COVID-19 testing has been temporarily suspended at all Canadian airports until mid-July.
As well, travellers arriving at Toronto Pearson or Vancouver International are now able to save time by using the Advance Canada Border Services Agency Declaration optional feature in ArriveCAN (which is still mandatory) to submit their customs and immigration declaration in advance of arrival.
In Canada, June 2022 air departure traffic was 58 times higher than it was in spring 2020, the government says.
In comparison, global travel volumes are up more than eight times since the low point during the pandemic, and “airports across the world are feeling the impact,” federal officials said Wednesday.
‘We are making progress, but challenges remain,” officials said. “A significant number of travellers continue to face travel delays, flight cancellations and issues with airport check-in and baggage services.”
To assist travellers, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has published a new information resource to help passengers who are experiencing flight cancellations, delays or lost luggage issues.
Airlines slash schedules
Pearson wasn’t the only Canadian brand to rank high in delays this week.
Air Canada, too, saw 65 per cent of its flights arrive late on Tuesday, while Jazz Aviation, which provides regional service, and Air Canada Rouge took second and third place respectively, FlightAware reports.
Only one other airline, Virgin Australia, landed more than half of its aircraft later than scheduled, but that’s now four days in a row that Canada’s flag carrier has placed number one of any large carrier worldwide, according to FlightAware's data.
Last month, Air Canada announced reductions to its summer flight schedule to “reduce passenger volumes and flows to a level we believe the air transport system can accommodate," wrote president and CEO Michael Rousseau in a statement.
"Regrettably, things are not business as usual in our industry globally, and this is affecting our operations and our ability to serve you with our normal standards of care," Mr. Rousseau wrote.
The airline’s international flights (other than those to the U.S.) are unaffected by the reducations, save for a few timing changes to reduce flying at peak times.
The adjustments mostly impact flights out of Toronto and Montreal and Air Canada says it will mostly be “frequency reductions, affecting primarily evening and late-night flights by smaller aircraft, on transborder and domestic routes.”
Four routes have also been temporarily suspended.
(For a complete list of all the changes Air Canada has made to its 2022 summer schedule, click here)
WestJet, too, has scaled down its capacity. In a statement last month, the carrier said it “proactively” reduced its operations and will operate 25 per cent fewer flights this summer.
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