Topic: Winter Operations Disruption

From January 5 to 9, 2014, Toronto Pearson was impacted by severe weather conditions that disrupted our operations. The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) undertook a 90-day Review to look at how Toronto Pearson functions during irregular operations and what happened during that weather event specifically.

During the review process, travellers, the general public and airport employees submitted feedback about their experiences and observations during the weather event – input that helped us understand the impacts from all points of view and guided our recommended actions for improvement.

In April, the review was complete and the January 2014 Operations Disruption: Review and Recommendations report (PDF, 4.1 MB) was released. This report explains a comprehensive view of what happened and outlines 12 Recommendations for improvement.

Along with our airport partners – air carriers, NAV CANADA, CBSA, service providers, and more – we committed to being more prepared for future winter seasons by implementing those recommendations, which fall in to two categories: operations and customer service/communications.

So how have we done?

The 12 Recommendations with respect to operations, customer service, and communications are:


  • Recommendation #1: Harmonized irregular operations plans; amongst the GTAA and our airport partners.
  • Recommendation #2: Establish clear early warning criteria and joint airport partner escalation procedures; ensure we’re all aware of when to escalate to irregular operations protocols.
  • Recommendation #3: Established Emergency Operations Center protocol with air carriers and partners; newly renovated facilities that will be used to ensure all the right people are in the room together during irregular operations to ensure a coordinated response.
  • Recommendation #4: New equipment for snow removal and snow resilience; specialized equipment such as ice breakers, graders, loaders for removing snow more efficiently and covered air stairs for getting passengers off planes safely in the winter.
  • Recommendation #5: Employee warming stations for Terminal 1; heated kiosks at the bottom of gate bridges along the ramp now heated, open and ready for use.
  • Recommendation #6: Improvements to Air Traffic Management programs; designed in conjunction with Air Canada, WestJet, and NAV Canada, to better balance capacity and demand during irregular operations. In addition, new procedures have been developed to handle re-directed flights.
  • Recommendation #7: Updated snow removal program; the implementation of joint air carrier/ground handler and GTAA snow teams on the apron to clear gates more effectively and a new load and go snow removal operation.
  • Recommendation #8: Enhanced baggage protocols; developed and tested with an automated digital dashboard to alert to potential issues before they become unmanageable, as well as new baggage storage areas for irregular operations over-flow.

Customer service and communications

  • Recommendation #9: More coordinated communications protocols; internally amongst the GTAA and with our airport partners for a clear consistent flow of information.
  • Recommendation #10: Mobile app; passengers can download the new Toronto Pearson mobile app on their smartphones or other mobile devices – it will provide notifications of operational disruptions at Toronto Pearson, thereby allowing passengers to plan accordingly.
  • Recommendation #11: New passenger well-being protocol; implemented to distribute essential items such as water, diapers, etc. and to ensure retail concessions stay open during operations disruptions.
  • Recommendation #12: Improved information capacity for passengers; an irregular operations landing page at to provide information during an operations disruption, as well as increased WiFi and cellular capacity throughout both terminals.

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