Head of Pearson Airport in Mississauga vows to reduce wait times, general chaos


Published August 5, 2022 at 11:16 am

Pearson Airport MIssissauga

The head of embattled Pearson Airport in Mississauga vowed this morning (Aug. 5) to continue fixing major issues that have plagued Canada’s largest airport and left tens of thousands of travellers angry and frustrated the past four months.

In a news conference at the airport, Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) CEO Deborah Flint said improvements are already being made to reduce the number of delayed and cancelled flights, get travellers through the airport faster and connect passengers more quickly with their luggage.

Flint promised that airport officials and their partners with the airlines and federal government will continue to address the issues to improve the travel experience for passengers and once again position Pearson as an internationally respected and award-winning airport.

“We were an award-winning airport for five years. It’s in our DNA,” Flint told the Friday morning press gathering, adding the top priority is to once again and as quickly as possible provide the best airport experience for travellers.

“Pearson has been an award-winning airport and we are determined to get back to that status.”

GTAA CEO Deborah Flint.

Describing recent months as a “transitional time” as Pearson and airports across Canada and around the world recover from a host of staffing and other issues brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Flint said there has been more pressure–unique pressure–on Pearson to get back up to speed in response to a tremendous pent-up demand for air travel.

“We didn’t go from zero to 100 (once air travellers returned),” Pearson’s CEO noted, adding the Mississauga-based airport is the sixth-most connected air hub in the world. “We went from zero to 500.”

Flint said the situation airports are facing is historic in aviation history. Airports and airlines were caught off guard by the large numbers of people who returned to air travel so quickly once pandemic restrictions were eliminated earlier this year.

“Our pause (due to the pandemic) was longer and our ramp-up (this past spring) was much steeper than other airports,” Flint continued. “But we are dedicated and committed to getting through this transitional time…we have a long way to go, but our efforts (to date) are yielding improvements. We are improving the experience for travellers week to week.”

In addition to the introduction of 10 eGates last week at Terminal 1, which will allow passengers to get through customs faster, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has hired hundreds of new employees to help with screening, which will reduce lineups and delays, Flint said.

She noted that 82 per cent of passengers are now being screened in less than 15 minutes.

Additionally, she said, passengers on domestic flights are waiting only an average of 24 minutes to collect their luggage.

But she emphasized, again, that much more needs to be done.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to improving the passenger experience,” Flint said, noting it will take more time. “Today, the reality is the ecosystem here and at airports around the world is fragile.”

A recent study showed that Pearson Airport had the most flight delays of any airport in the world between the end of May and July 19.

According to data provided by airline tracking service FlightAware, Pearson led the way among hundreds of international airports with 52.5 per cent of its scheduled flights delayed between May 26 and July 19.

The data, which was compiled for CNN in the U.S., also revealed that Pearson stood fourth in the world for flight cancellations, with 6.5 per cent of its flights grounded during the same time period.

While topping such a list isn’t great news for Pearson, other airports in Canada, the U.S. and around the world are facing similar issues–and have for the past several months since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and people returned to air travel in unexpectedly huge numbers.

Those numbers have led to other issues as well including lost luggage, huge lineups and, in some cases, general chaos at airports, most of which are facing staff shortages as well.

Earlier this summer, in response to various issues the aviation industry is facing as travellers return to airports in huge, unexpected numbers, Air Canada announced it cut dozens of daily flights this summer from Pearson Airport and other airports across the country.

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