TORONTO — Toronto Pearson International Airport plans to cap the number of flights into and out of Canada’s largest air hub in peak travel periods this year, with a view to “flatten out” daily crests at airports awash in passengers.
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority said it will impose a “hard limit” on how many commercial planes arrive at and depart from Pearson at any given hour during March break and the summer season, “thereby spreading demand out over the course of each day.”
It will also put a ceiling on the number of passengers that can arrive from abroad or depart to the U.S. within a given 60-minute period.
In preparation since last fall, the measures “strike a balance between airline requests and the capabilities of the entities across the entire airport ecosystem,” spokeswoman Rachel Bertone said in an emailed statement. She pointed to strains on air navigation service Nav Canada as well as the U.S. and Canadian border agencies.
“We’ve also been constraining transborder flights for months to account for staffing levels,” she said, referring to the same three organizations.
The airports authority has not specified what the caps will be.
The new constraints aim to tamp down traffic at peak times following a surge in demand over the spring and summer as well as the winter holidays that erupted in travel chaos last year.
The turmoil included scenes of overflowing baggage halls, stranded passengers and tens of thousands of flight cancellations.
So far Canada’s three other largest airports – Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary – have not announced any plans to rein in daily surges beyond their normal collaboration with airlines on scheduling.
AIR CANADA STATEMENT
Yesterday Air Canada issued a statement in response to the GTAA’s planned flight caps.
“Air Canada was first advised of the GTAA’s plans in August 2022, and so it designed its 2023 winter schedule with these limitations taken into account and anticipates no significant changes to its schedule for the March Break travel period. It subsequently received information about GTAA’s plans for summer 2023 and similarly designed this coming summer’s schedule to meet those parameters,” said the airline.
“It is Air Canada’s policy to work with its industry partners to meet the requirements of airports and other third parties to drive operational improvements and support the smooth running of Canada’s air transport system. This includes, as in this case, adapting its schedule as required to ensure operational stability, and is a normal process.”
With file from The Canadian Press