toronto pearson

Toronto's Pearson Airport is raising fees for passengers despite nightmare service woes

As country music icon Dolly Parton once said, "It takes a lot of money to look this cheap."

In a similar vein, Toronto's Pearson International Airport recently announced (in a roundabout way) that, effectively, it costs a lot of money to suck this hard.

"Effective January 1, 2023, aeronautical rates for commercial aviation, business aircraft and general aviation aircraft will increase by 4 per cent," announced the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA,) which owns and operates Pearson, in a news release late last month.

"These increases are a result of the high inflationary environment and ongoing impacts from COVID."

For passengers departing Pearson, this translates to a $5 increase in airport fees, from the current $30 per ticket to $35. Travellers who simply pass through the airport for connecting flights will soon pay a $7 fee, as opposed to the current $6.

It's not a huge amount, but these fee hikes will add up to serious cash for the GTAA, which intends to use it for "capital expenses," like putting it toward debt accrued from airport improvement projects.

"Airport operations have improved significantly since the summer, but Toronto Pearson is still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," said GTAA president and CEO Deborah Flint in the release.

"As a not-for-profit entity, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we have sufficient revenues to maintain and invest in a world-class facility to provide our valued passengers with an experience that is appropriate for Canada's largest airport."

After a summer of absolutely hellish conditions at the airport, where abrupt flight cancellations, long security lineups, mass delays, baggage chaos and ridiculous wait times for many services due to short-staffing, some are surprised to learn that Pearson is hiking fees now.

The international airport was only recently ranked the worst on earth, after all, attracting the attention of major U.S. news outlets and celebrities who were quick to spread the word that flying into, out of or through Pearson sucks.

Things got so bad at one point this summer that people started actively avoiding the airport when travelling, driving hours or more out of their way for fear of getting stuck in "the worst place on earth."

It's of note that some of these problems were present before the pandemic, and that, as The Star points out, airport fees in the U.S. are capped by law at $18 per flight.

The GTAA states on its website that it tries to keep airport improvement fees "at reasonable levels," which begs the question: What's reasonable for consumers to pay at an airport that, while starting to improve, is still one of the most horrible, frustrating places to spend (too much) time in Canada?

"Unbelieveable. 'Worlds worst airport' raising user fees. Imagine a business saying 'we know our service is awful but if we increase prices, we can make it better,'" wrote one Twitter user of the situation.

"Pearson Airport logic: Let's see...we were rated the worst airport in the world this year," joked another. "Hmmm... what to do... I know! Let's raise our fees!"

Lead photo by

Toronto Pearson

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