Governance & Leadership

A message from
the president and CEO

The Better we Move

An airport is in business to move people – not just in the air, but on the ground as well. And as we help make the connections to get travellers where they need to go, our communities and all Canadians benefit from a more dynamic and resilient economy.

In 2017, three million more travellers passed through Toronto Pearson than in the previous year. This increase reflects the continued growth of our region, as well as rising demand across Canada for fast, convenient access to the rest of the world. Our evolution into a leading global hub is driven by the needs and priorities of the economies we support – and by the tourists, businesspeople, immigrants and other visitors we help attract to our city, our province and points beyond.

But there’s more to being a top-tier global airport than facilitating inbound and outbound flights. As we often say at the GTAA, we’re in the connectivity business. That means we have a responsibility to help passengers travel onward from our terminals to their ultimate destinations. By the same token, we understand that for people across the region flying out of our airport, the journey begins before they even leave their homes or offices, from the moment they download a boarding pass or arrange ground transportation.

This is why we’ve taken the lead in proposing the development of a regional transit centre, integrated with Toronto Pearson, that will be a hub for high-speed rail, light rail and bus networks serving the western Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Since the announcement of our initial plan in February 2017, we’ve been consulting with all levels of government, as well as Metrolinx and other ground transportation agencies, about the best way to move forward on a project that all agree is vital to the future prosperity of our region.

And to be clear: the focus of this proposed transit hub is not to get more travellers efficiently to and from Toronto Pearson. That will be a welcome bonus, as we give airport users a choice of more convenient, sustainable transit alternatives. But the real impetus for this initiative is one that residents of our nearby communities understand all too well: the need to free up traffic-clogged roads and get the whole region moving better.

A larger vision

For the 300,000 people who commute to work daily in the Airport Employment Zone – or for those whose jobs take them into downtown Toronto, or to thriving regional centres like Waterloo – having more accessible transportation options will improve their quality of life and help them be more productive in their current jobs. It will also open doors to new opportunities. And yes, they’ll enjoy easier access to and from our airport when they travel. But from our perspective, the connectivity we provide with our airline partners is just one part of a larger vision. And for the communities we’re in business to serve, the advantage of a global hub is not simply that we help meet rising demand for air travel – Toronto Pearson is an asset that can be leveraged to benefit the entire regional economy.

We often talk about our airport’s impact in terms of GDP, and the numbers are impressive. Urban theorist Richard Florida points out – as one of several guest experts who share their points of view in this annual report – that Toronto Pearson generates more than $40 billion annually, which equates to about 15 per cent of the GTA’s total economic output. But it’s the stories behind the numbers that reveal our true impact: The multinational companies that build their Canadian headquarters in our region, confident of having easy connections to the world. The flow of foreign investment into local enterprises that require similar connectivity. The startups and growing ventures in various innovation centres across Southern Ontario – all dependent on global links to secure financing, arrange manufacturing and explore potential markets. And then there are the tens of thousands of international students attending our post-secondary institutions – and of course the millions of tourists who each year visit our region and the rest of Canada, spending billions on goods and services.

All of these factors contribute significantly to job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity. And their impact is magnified by the power of a global hub airport.

Meeting the challenges

As Toronto Pearson connects our region and Canada’s trading economy to the world, we inevitably face some operating challenges. Last year, traffic at our airport rose once again to a record 47.1 million passengers. That represents an increase of 11 million – equivalent to the combined populations of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba – in just five years. The number of aircraft movements hasn’t risen proportionately; airlines are investing in larger and more sophisticated planes, and are also allocating seats more efficiently. Still, it means we must be more focused than ever on maximizing the efficiency of our airport while maintaining the highest safety standards, exceeding passengers’ expectations and minimizing our impact on surrounding communities.

The challenge has two main dimensions:

First, we need to optimize the flow of passengers, baggage and aircraft through Toronto Pearson, deriving the maximum value from our existing footprint. The many stories showcased in this annual report point to our success in enhancing services, adding new amenities and collaborating with carriers, government agencies and other partners to keep everything moving as smoothly and safely as possible.

The best measure of progress comes from the toughest audience – our passengers, who this year gave us our highest score yet in the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey conducted by Airports Council International. Toronto Pearson ranks first in North America among airports serving more than 40 million passengers annually. And our passenger satisfaction level is higher than that of comparable hubs across the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. We’re proud to receive this recognition and to share it with Air Canada, WestJet and the other carriers and partners who help us deliver a superior airport experience.

At the same time, we never lose sight of our other key challenge as a leading global hub: managing the impact of airport operations on our neighbours. This report also highlights our various environmental efforts, from recycling programs to the steady reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. We’re committed to supporting our communities – and indeed working alongside them – to protect the region’s natural environment and the overall health of the planet.

The most sensitive area of impact is the effect of aircraft noise on neighbourhoods beneath our primary flight paths. This is an issue faced by all airports serving urban regions, and over the past few years we’ve looked for better ways to discuss it with community members and seek solutions together. As David Wilson, Chair of the GTAA’s Board of Directors, notes in his message, in 2017 we took a number of important steps in this regard – notably the publication of a Noise Management Action Plan committing to specific actions we’ll take with air carriers and other partners to mitigate both the level and frequency of airport-related noise.

The greater the opportunity

In all of the efforts I’ve touched on here, we’re supported by a strong Board that provides insight and guidance as we work to achieve our strategic goals. And as always, our progress is driven by the 1,600 dedicated employees of the GTAA, and the 49,000 people directly employed at Toronto Pearson, who work together every day to fulfill our vision: To be the best airport in the world.

This annual report, which we’re producing for the first time in a more accessible digital format, echoes the message we’ve begun sharing with our neighbours: The better we move, the greater we become. This is true not simply for Toronto Pearson, but for communities across our region. The more we work together to put good ideas into motion – to find sustainable transit solutions, create better jobs for more people, foster innovation and economic development, and build diverse and inclusive communities – the more our region, and all of Canada, will prosper and grow.

The better we move, the greater the opportunity.

Howard Eng signature
Howard Eng
President and Chief Executive Officer
GRI Indicators
  • 102-14
Governance & Leadership

Learn more about how the GTAA is governed and managed

Our Board provides guidance to the management team in setting strategic priorities and pursuing business goals – while collectively representing the interests of the GTAA and all of its stakeholders.