Pearson airport boss says summer operations have ‘significantly improved’

The head of Toronto Pearson International Airport says operations have “significantly improved” at Canada’s busiest travel hub after travelers experienced turbulence before they even left the ground last summer.

“This summer is of course very different from summer 2022 with its slingshot of growth of 180 per cent in a very short period of time,” Deborah Flint, Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) CEO, said at a news conference on Tuesday. “The numbers that we show today speak volumes.”

According to Flint, security wait times in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 have both “dramatically” improved since 2022. Most recent data from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) shows that during the week of July 3, more than 90 per cent of passengers cleared security in less than 15 minutes.

At customs, the average wait time for passengers was seven minutes, which Flint called a “substantial improvement” over last summer.

Gate holds, which sees passengers held on an aircraft, is also down by over 97 per cent, Flint said. CATSA data indicates there was just one gate hold at Pearson during the week of July 3 to 9.

During the same week last year, 34 flights were held at the gate for an average hold time of 10 minutes. The GTAA said holding passengers at the gate was a “regular practice” last summer due to overcrowding in the customs hall.

Deborah Flint

Flint credits digital and technological innovations, such as the YYZ Express program — which allows passengers to bypass long security lineups — Mobile Passport Control, and advance declarations as some of the reasons behind the operational improvements at the airport, as well as added staffing.

“We’re very proud of our progress. We are energized by the future,” Flint said.

A year ago, Toronto Pearson airport was ranked the worst airport in the world for delays as air travel surged and airports across the globe tried to keep up with demand after COVID-19 health restrictions lifted.

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