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pearson airport delays

Toronto business leaders are fed up with the constant chaos at Pearson Airport

The borders have reopened, mandates have been partially lifted, and while travel is once again possible out of Toronto-Pearson International Aiport, it's been far from a pleasant experience for travellers looking to escape the city this spring.

Long wait times and general misery have been a running theme at Canada's busiest airport for a few weeks now, forcing the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) to issue a statement earlier in May that blamed the recurring issues on bottlenecks at under-staffed security screening points.

It's resulted in extremely long lines, planes being delayed for hours on the tarmac, and even passengers missing their flights altogether as the GTAA attributes the challenges to staffing shortages and claims the problems are "a direct result of legacy public health requirements."

Echoing these calls, Toronto business leaders, including voices from the Toronto Region Board of Trade, the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, AccorHotels, and the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies have banded together and are pushing for the Federal Government to intervene and get planes moving on schedule again.

The collective of business leaders is claiming that with the Canadian travel industry still a long way away from full recovery, saying it's imperative that government action is taken to "immediately address resource challenges with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to streamline international arrivals by eliminating legacy Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) measures."

In a press release issued Thursday morning, the group states that in the before times, "CBSA processing at Pearson took on average 30 seconds for an arriving passenger" compared to the up to four times longer required today, which can drag on for hours during peak departure times.

The group of business leaders uses language critical of public health measures, saying that "the increased processing time stems from two leftover, non-science-based pandemic relics," citing "mandatory random COVID-19 testing for 2,000 international arriving passengers per day and duplicate health checks and questions."

Instead, the group of business leaders supports newer methods such as wastewater testing to provide an early warning for outbreaks without impeding the flow of travellers.

It's claimed in the news release that "7,000 travellers waited longer than 90 minutes on airplanes" and 100,000 people total were delayed last week, and the group is increasingly concerned that these gruelling wait periods are often the first impression for international travellers and claims that this presents "a significant obstacle to business recovery."

Jan De Silva, President and CEO of Toronto Region Board of Trade said, "To solve for the long-tail economic realities faced by our visitor economy we must demonstrate to potential visitors – especially our business visitors – they can travel easily and without undo [sic] challenge to our region."

"In short – we need to make this a good experience. Competing cities around the world are doing this successfully. We are painfully and inexcusably behind in Toronto."

"For this reason, we echo the GTAA and urge the federal government to take immediate action and remove legacy public health requirements to support GTA businesses and to help our city get back to normal."

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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