toronto airport

The federal government says it's trying to fix the nightmare that is Toronto Pearson Airport

After weeks on ongoing delays and an outpouring of complaints from air travellers, the federal government has vowed to finally step in and do something about the turmoil at Toronto's Pearson Airport.

The hub has become world-famous for never-ending lineups, flight delays and cancellations, an absolute mess of a luggage area and worse — people have even been stuck sitting on grounded planes for hours due to backups at customs, or had their pets lost.

It's been so bad that Canadian Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra last week called the situation out as "unacceptable," and is now among those finally taking steps to try and fix it.

According to a statement from Transport Canada issued on Wednesday, Alghabra has been meeting with stakeholders such as the CEOs of Air Canada, WestJet and the authority that runs Pearson to ensure that staffing issues are addressed and operations are stepped up to accommodate a huge uptick in demand.

Air departure traffic was a whopping 58-times higher last month than it was at the beginning of the pandemic in spring 2020, Ottawa says, compared with only around eight-times higher globally.

"From too many flights to not enough staff, there is no single reason for these delays — but the Government of Canada and air industry partners continue to make significant efforts to add resources and streamline processes to ease congestion and help keep travellers moving," the statement assures citizens.

These efforts include hiring more than 1,000 more security screening officers, installing additional customs kiosks, improvements to the ArriveCAN app — which is still necessary for anyone coming into the country — and the formation of a special task force to address the problem, along with the massive backlog for passport renewals.

"We are making progress, but challenges remain," Transport Canada writes.

"A significant number of travellers continue to face travel delays, flight cancellations and issues with airport check-in and baggage services. We continue to take action with air industry partners to reduce the delays in the travel system and update Canadians on our progress."

Given that the snafu has gone on for so long despite efforts from every side to remedy the situation, travellers may have little faith that this promise from the feds is anything more than placation at this point. But here's hoping.

Lead photo by

Kris Pangilinan

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