“Things should get back to normal by Q4”: Aviation expert on airport delays

Federal govt. issues airport update ahead of busiest travel season

OTTAWA — With this week marking the start of the busiest travel season of the year, Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra will be meeting with the CEOs of Canada’s six largest airports and airlines to discuss ongoing measures to reduce airport wait times.

In a joint statement issued yesterday, June 20, with Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino, and Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance Randy Boissonnault, it was confirmed that Minister Alghabra will also be meeting with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), NAV CANADA, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) this week to ensure ongoing collaboration.

The statement is as follows:

“The Government of Canada recognizes the impact that significant wait times at some Canadian airports are having on travellers. This is a global phenomenon due to the increase in air traffic across the world. Transport Canada, PHAC, CBSA, CATSA, NAV CANADA, airports and airlines continue to meet regularly to find solutions to address bottlenecks affecting travel, including at pre-board security screening and pre-clearance departure checkpoints, in customs halls, and for air traffic control, airport and airline operations.

“This week marks the beginning of the busiest travel season of the year, and we will begin seeing higher numbers of travellers through our airports. Our Government is working to maintain the progress we have made and improve in the weeks to come.

“Our efforts continue to have a positive impact. Wait times at security lines continue to go down at Toronto Pearson International Airport, with about 91 percent of passengers now being screened within 15 minutes. Calgary International Airport also saw a slight overall improvement, with about 86 percent of passengers now screened within 15 minutes. About 84 percent of passengers were screened within 15 minutes at Vancouver International Airport, which is fewer than the previous week, but still a significant improvement since mid-May. About 85 percent of passengers were screened within 15 minutes at Montreal Trudeau International Airport, similar to the previous week.”

The Ministers also highlighted the various actions that the Government of Canada and the air industry have implemented in recent weeks. They include:

  • Since April, nearly 1,000 CATSA screening officers have been hired across Canada. With this, the number of screening officers at Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport is now over 100 percent of the targeted requirements for this summer based on projected traffic.
  • CBSA is maximizing officer availability and additional Student Border Services Officers are now at work.
  • CBSA and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority are making available additional kiosks at Toronto Pearson International Airport customs hall areas.
  • CBSA and PHAC streamlined the process to identify travellers who are required to undergo testing at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
  • As of June 11, mandatory randomized COVID-19 testing has been temporarily suspended at all airports until June 30. As of July 1, all test swabbing, including for unvaccinated travellers, will be performed off-site.
  • PHAC is adding additional staff on select days to verify that travellers have completed their ArriveCAN submissions on arrival and further inform air travellers about the importance of the mandatory requirements. ArriveCAN is mandatory for all travellers to Canada and is available for free as an app or through the website.

“We recognize that there is still work to be done; and we will continue to work with partners to reduce the delays in the travel system and to report back to Canadians,” said the Ministers.

The federal government provided a previous update on airport improvements last week amid mounting frustrations over sometimes hours-long waits at Canada’s major airports and on tarmacs, largely due to staff shortages.