air canada cancels flights

Air Canada cancelled a whopping 10% of its Toronto flights over the past week

The prospect of travelling through Toronto's Pearson International Airport has been nothing short of dreadful in recent months, fraught with potential hiccups that could spell the difference between spending the day chilling on a beach and spending the day eating overpriced nuts from Hudson next to hundreds of grumpy-looking strangers.

Long lines at customs, delays on the tarmac, complete and utter baggage claim madness — none of these things can be blamed on any one entity, despite what related entities might say.

Rather, Canada's largest airport is suffering under a combination of factors related to the post-COVID reopening of borders and a seemingly-unexpected rush of people looking to leave the country after two years of being locked down.

The situation sucks for travellers and air industry staff alike — this much we can all agree upon — but the true economic impact of these chaotic conditions have yet to be seen.

Early figures suggest, however, that it's not only customers losing money on unexpected hotel stays and nuts (WHY ARE NUTS SO EXPENSIVE AT THE AIRPORT?), but major airlines too.

According to aviation data company Cirium, per The Globe and Mail, Air Canada cancelled a staggering 360 flights at Pearson in the first week of June alone. That's about ten per cent of all the carrier's scheduled flights, split between arrivals and departures.

Air Canada has blamed recent snafus on such factors as Pearson's baggage system and staffing issues with "government third-party providers," chiefly as the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), a Crown corporation responsible for screening all people and bags.

"Long processing times at airports and other restrictions have resulted in flight delays and in some instances cancellations and these can have knock-on effects not only for our customers but can also impact our employee resources and operations," said the airline in a statement this week.

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, meanwhile, said last month that these troubles can be blamed on travellers themselves, suggesting that the general public is rusty or "out-of-practice" when it comes to flying after two years of being locked down.

The minister addressed the issues at Pearson once again this week, admitting that the situation is frustrating and stating that the government will "do everything we can to provide the resources they need, to help logistically, to provide the support they need."

The Canadian Airports Council also issued a statement this week calling for "the removal of vaccine requirements for air passengers and aviation employees."

"The aviation community has been a supportive partner of the federal government in facilitating the vaccine mandate for travel since October 2021. However, today all Canadian provinces have removed vaccine restrictions, so there is now a different standard for aviation employees and transportation than for other Canadians," read the statement.

"Aviation is global. In order to support this industry's economic recovery and compete globally, Canada must align with the international community and join the list of over 50 countries that have already removed vaccine mandates and COVID protocols for travel."

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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