Passengers pay more to travel out of Pearson Airport in Mississauga


Published March 6, 2023 at 12:18 pm


Travellers using Pearson Airport in Mississauga hope their experience improves this year over last, especially since they’re now paying more to use Canada’s busiest airport.

After a summer of cancelled flights, lost luggage and long lineups at the airport, and more of the same during this past December’s always-busy holiday travel season, the airport has raised both the Airport Improvement Fee (AIF) charged to passengers and the Aeronautic Rates charged to airlines.

The hikes, imposed by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which operates Pearson, took effect Jan. 1 and are expected to help pay for increased staffing and airport renovations.

The AIF has increased to $35 for departing passengers, up from $30 last year and $25 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. For connecting travellers, it’s up to $7 from the $4 rate charged during pre-pandemic times.

Prior to that, fees hadn’t risen in more than a decade.

By comparison, such fees at American airports are capped at $18 per round trip, per passenger.

Also, aircraft landing at Pearson now pay four per cent more than last year. A typical plane arriving at the Mississauga-based airport pays just over $5,000 now compared to about $4,875 in 2022.

The rate hikes at Pearson have drawn some criticism from airlines and other groups in the aviation and travel industry.

One point of contention is that the increases come at a time when airport and airline service, particularly at Pearson last year, have worsened.

The situation at Pearson Airport last summer was often described by travellers and others as “chaotic” as flights were delayed or cancelled outright and luggage often didn’t make it to the right location.

Long lineups inside terminals and under-staffing also contributed to the overall frustration felt by travellers and others.

Similar problems presented themselves during the December 2022 holiday travel season.

However, the situation at Pearson has improved in recent months and GTAA officials as well as Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra have pledged that the better travel conditions will continue.

The fee hikes are necessary because the pandemic grounded revenues and led to more debt for airports across Canada.

According to credit rating agency DBRS Morningstar, COVID-19 disrupted the airport sector’s “relatively stable” and resilient business model.

Its analysis shows that while airlines received significant financial aid during the height of the pandemic, airport authorities only benefited from “modest” support.

That means Canadian airports have added around $3.2 billion in combined debt at a time when operating costs and capital project expenditures are also rising due to inflation.

–with files from The Canadian Press

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