“We didn’t go from zero to 100, we went from zero to 500”: Pearson update from GTAA’s Flint

“We didn’t go from zero to 100, we went from zero to 500”: Pearson update from GTAA’s Flint

TORONTO — The Greater Toronto Airports Authority is on a mission to get Toronto’s Pearson Airport back to its award-winning ways.

President and CEO Deborah Flint said this morning that the GTAA wants to “restore predictability and reliability to the air travel experience.”

“We know that travel has not been easy to passengers,” said Flint. “The stories of the missed events, the cancelled flights, we’ve heard all of it. Every single experience matters to me.”

“We will be persistent and dedicated to get through this transitory time.”

As Flint notes, Pearson was one of the most shut-down airports in the world during the pandemic. “Our pause was longer, and our ramp up to summer travel was much steeper than other airports,” she said. “We didn’t go from zero to 100, we went from zero to 500.”

The delays at Canada’s largest airports, notably Pearson, have been making headlines and frustrating passengers for months. They’ve been frustrating for the GTAA team too, says Flint, who noted that for five years, including two under Flint’s leadership, Pearson was the best large airport in North America.

Pearson is the sixth most connected airport in the world. Not only that, but 50% of Canada’s international air passengers come through Pearson.

Looking back over improvements at the airport in recent weeks, Flint said she wanted to thank Canada’s airlines, security organizations, the CBSA, NavCanada and the federal government for all their work in helping to get travel at Pearson back on track.

Pearson’s latest metric for on-time performance was 44%. “That’s not normally a statistic I would tout, but given where we were four weeks ago, an improvement from 35% is substantial,” she said.

She added that CATSA stats show that 82% of passengers are being screened within 15 minutes, another improvement.

And the average time for arriving passengers to get their luggage is now 24 minutes.

New tools at the GTAA site, including interactive infographics, are aimed at helping passengers maximize efficiencies at the airport. There’s also a peak times dashboard with information on how busy each terminal is based on historical information from the past two weeks. As well,  an at-a-glance resource will be updated weekly

Flint plans to host regular press conferences at the airport where she and her team will provide a status update on operational progress, and answer media questions.

This morning Flint also said the GTAA is looking to post live wait times on the site. “We will have those live in the near future,” she said.

“There is still work to be done but we expect these actions and those of our partners to yield positive results,” said Flint.

Towards the end of the press conference, during the Q&A session, one reporter noted that Pearson had become an “international laughingstock”, and asked Flint if any GTAA team members, including herself, had considered tendering their resignation.

Flint reiterated the GTAA’s focus on working with its airport partners to get operations back on track, and said: “I am deeply committed to making sure passengers have a great and reliable experience.”