TORONTO — Soaring numbers of travellers flying out of Canada’s airports have seen lineup wait times skyrocket, particularly at Toronto’s Pearson Airport and Vancouver Airport, and now the head of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has issued an apology.
Social media and consumer media reports lit up with feedback from frustrated passengers facing hours-long security lineups at YYZ and YVR, and in some cases, missed flights.
Some complained that the lineups were longer than the flight, while others decried the “gong show” and the chaos.
Travel’s re-start thanks to the long-awaited easing of travel restrictions, coupled with pent-up demand after two years of the pandemic, are causing bottlenecks across the board, not just at the airports but at the passport office too.
CATSA CEO Mike Saunders issued an apology for the inconvenience to air travellers resulting from the recent increase in wait times at some major airports. He says the federal Crown corporation is “aggressively working to address the situation”, adding that the long lineups are due mainly to staff shortages.
Says Saunders: “CATSA is currently experiencing the pent-up demand for air travel occasioned by the pandemic. This follows two tumultuous years that resulted in a significant number of layoffs throughout the aviation industry, including the security-screening workforce.
“Now, as then, CATSA’s priority is to protect the public through effective and efficient security screening and we are committed to meeting that mandate.
“While the corporation’s third-party security contractors – who are responsible for providing the screening officer workforce – have been working to increase staffing levels, they are not immune to the recruitment challenges experienced by the broader commercial aviation industry and, indeed, many industries across Canada at this time.
“CATSA has been actively supporting them as additional measures are taken to recruit, train and certify new, qualified screening staff.
“We are continuing to work with our screening contractors to take all steps possible to increase staffing levels while ensuring we continue to provide the highest levels of security screening.”
Saunders says that as staffing levels ramp back up across the industry, CATSA is strongly advising passengers to arrive at the airport well in advance of their flights – two hours for domestic and three hours for U.S. and international destinations. Security screening tips are available at CATSA.gc.ca.
“As CATSA works aggressively to address wait times for security at Canadian airports, it again apologizes for the inconvenience this brings to air travellers, and asks that passengers show patience and understanding with screening personnel, who are doing their best to move air travellers through the screening process as quickly as possible while ensuring their safety and security,” said Saunders.