May 4, 2022
TORONTO, ONTARIO – The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which manages and operates Toronto Pearson International Airport, is extremely proud of the way that our entire employee community has shown up throughout the pandemic; however we also are acutely aware of the extreme wait times that passengers are facing within Toronto Pearson.
An airport represents a complex ecosystem of players – each of whom is responsible for delivering different aspects of a passenger’s journey through the facility. There are three government checkpoints within our airport:
- Pre-board security screening on departure, provided by Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA)
- Preclearance on departure for all U.S. destinations, provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (US-CBP)
- Customs clearance for international flights upon arrival in Canada, provided by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), including additional requirements established by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
Wait times for departing passengers at security screening points are being negatively impacted by staffing challenges at CATSA. US-bound travellers are impacted both by CATSA and USCBP staffing shortages. Moreover, international arriving passengers are facing bottlenecks and very lengthy delays in border processing—a direct result of legacy public health requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To prevent severe passenger congestion, airport and airline staff are forced to hold passengers on planes and deliberately meter the flow of arriving travellers into the customs hall for processing by CBSA, a process that we know and appreciate is incredibly frustrating for passengers.
Airports have been ringing the proverbial alarm bells about the comparative lack of investment in the sector, critical projects that had to be deferred, layoffs of specialized labour and the resulting labour shortage, as well as the financial challenges still faced as a result of the pandemic.
The GTAA urgently calls on the Government of Canada to:
- streamline or eliminate inbound legacy public health requirements at Canada’s airports, and in doing help to alleviate bottlenecks for international arriving passengers;
- eliminate random testing upon arrival from Canada’s airports and look to effective and proven options such as community wastewater testing;
- invest in the necessary government agency staffing and technology to achieve globally competitive service level standards; and
- engage with the U.S. Government to ensure staffing and capacity at preclearance sites return to pre-pandemic levels.
While we may be open, we are far from recovered. Recognizing aviation’s importance to the national economy and global perceptions of Canada, we need government’s immediate help to support air sector recovery so we can once again proudly welcome the world. Our goal at the GTAA is to provide a safe, healthy, seamless experience for everyone passing through Toronto Pearson and to offer air passengers in Canada the world-class travel experience they deserve and expect.
About the Greater Toronto Airports Authority
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority is the operator of Toronto – Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Canada’s largest airport and a vital connector of people, businesses and goods. Toronto Pearson has been named “Best Large Airport in North America serving more than 40 million passengers” for five years in a row by Airports Council International (ACI), the global trade representative of the world’s airports. In recognition of its Healthy Airport program, ACI has also awarded Toronto Pearson the “Best hygiene measures in North America” award for two years running, and Toronto Pearson was the first Canadian airport to receive ACI’s global health accreditation for its response to COVID-19.
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