pearson airport toronto

Toronto airport to hold emergency drill with fake protesters this weekend

It's been a chaotic few weeks for customers and staff alike at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, plagued with overcrowding, long lineups, security snafus, baggage issues and weary passengers being forced to sit for hours inside hot planes on the tarmac.

This weekend, things will be even busier than usual for airport personnel thanks to a "mock emergency exercise" featuring some 300 fake protesters at and around the airport.

"For the first time since the pandemic began, we're holding a full scale Emergency Exercise at Toronto Pearson," announced the airport on Friday before the drill, which is scheduled for Saturday, May 28.

"This exercise is a requirement by Transport Canada and it's an important way to test the airport's emergency response."

It's not clear why, exactly, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) would choose to run such an obtrusive exercise on a Saturday morning — traditionally a rather busy time for flying — especially given all of the nightmare conditions being reported at Pearson lately.

A representative for the airport did specify that "the location of the exercise is near our Administration building" and that terminals won't be affected. The roads surrounding Pearson, however, could get dicey.

The airport noted in a press release on Friday that "there's no need" for members of the public to be concerned about the drill, as it is only an exercise.

The GTAA warns of "possible traffic disruptions between 8:00 am and 2:00 pm around the area of Convair Drive and Electra Road," but it's of note that this part of the airport is not accessible to passengers.

"This year's scenario will involve a protest, with approximately 300 members of the airport community, partners and volunteers playing the role of protestors," notes Pearson. "Other responders participating in the event include Peel Regional Police and Transport Canada."

The airport's website currently advises passengers to arrive at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights, but you'd be well-advised to leave yourself even more time this Saturday on account of Pearson's own huge fake protest.

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