As longer-than-usual delays in security screening at Toronto Pearson International Airport continue, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which manages and operates YYZ, is calling on the Government of Canada to step up with investments and help improve the situation.
In a statement issued Wednesday (May 4), the GTAA outlined a list of requests for reducing passenger wait times, which, as CEO of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Mike Saunders pointed out on Monday, is due to ongoing staffing issues at the facility.
The GTAA is calling on the feds to:
- Streamline or eliminate inbound public health requirements at Canada's airports, which should help to alleviate bottlenecks for international arriving passengers.
- Eliminate random testing upon arrival from Canada's airports and look to alternative methods, such as community wastewater testing.
- Invest in necessary staffing and technology to achieve globally competitive service level standards; and
- Engage with the U.S. Government to ensure staffing and capacity at pre-clearance sites return to pre-pandemic levels.
The demands come following media reports of excess crowding and chaotic scenes at Pearson airport involving lines of passengers who have missed their flights.
The CATSA is strongly urging passengers to arrive at the airport “well in advance of their flights” – two hours for domestic and three hours for U.S. and international destinations.
There are three government checkpoints at YYZ: pre-board security screening on departure, provided by Canadian Air Transport Security Authority; pre-clearance on departure for all U.S. destinations, provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and customs clearance for international flights upon arrival in Canada, provided by Canada Border Services Agency, including additional requirements established by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
“An airport represents a complex ecosystem of players – each of whom is responsible for delivering different aspects of a passenger's journey through the facility,” the GTAA explained yesterday.
Staffing shortages are being blamed for ongoing delays at the airport – international arriving passengers, for one, are “facing bottlenecks and very lengthy delays in border processing,” which the GTAA says is a “direct result of legacy public health requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
To prevent passenger congestion, airport and airline staff are forced to hold passengers on planes and deliberately meter the flow of arriving travellers into the customs hall for processing by CBSA, a process that we know and appreciate is incredibly frustrating for passengers,” the GTAA said.
While we may be open, we are far from recovered,” the airport authority said. “Recognizing aviation's importance to the national economy and global perceptions of Canada, we need government's immediate help to support air sector recovery so we can once again proudly welcome the world.”
Long wait times aren’t limited to Toronto Pearson either – security delays have also plagued Vancouver International Airport’s screening stations as well, according to reports.