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Comox Valley Airport welcomes new Flair, Swoop services in 2022; over 400,000 passengers in 2019

Posted on April 22, 2022 | Airlines, Airports, News & Analysis, North America

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Vancouver Island lies, not surprisingly, to the west of Vancouver on Canada’s Pacific coast. It is home to around 865,000 people, with just under half of those living in the capital, Victoria. The island has a number of water-based airports enabling seaplanes to operate between the island and Vancouver, but there are also a number of land-based airports. The airport serving Victoria (IATA code YYJ) handled just over two million passengers in 2018 making it the country’s 11th busiest airport.

Other land-based airports on Vancouver Island include Nanaimo (IATA code YCD), Campbell River (IATA code YBL) and Comox Valley (IATA code YQQ). The last of these, which also goes by the name of CFB Comox as it is an air force base for the Royal Canadian Air Force, welcomed new scheduled services with Flair Airlines from Calgary and Edmonton on 29 March. The airport, which has a 3,000-metre runway, was built in 1942 as a way of protecting Canada from any possible aggression from Japan.

Handled over 400,000 passengers in 2018 and 2019

Between 2010 and 2018, passenger numbers at Comox Valley increased from just under 300,000 per annum to 420,000. According to Cirium schedule data, the airport will welcome the following airlines and routes this summer (August 2022):

  • Air Canada: Vancouver (21-weekly with 78-seat Q400s)
  • Flair: Calgary (3-weekly with 189-seat 737s) and Edmonton (3-weekly with 189-seat 737s)
  • Pacific Coastal Airlines: Vancouver (12-weekly with 19-seat Beechcraft)
  • Swoop: Edmonton (4-weekly with 189-seat 737s – route set to start on 9 June)
  • WestJet: Calgary (21-weekly with a mix of Q400s and 737s), Edmonton (13-weekly with Q400s), Toronto YYZ (weekly with 737s) and Vancouver (14-weekly with 34-seat Saab 340s operated by Pacific Coastal Airlines).
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Flight crews forced to work without pay as a result of delays at Canadian airports, unions say

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Thu May 12, 2022 - The Globe and Mail
by Eric Atkins - Transportation Reporter

Quote

'said employers have warned pilots they could be fired if they don’t stay on the plane until the last passenger leaves.'

Delays at some Canadian airports have forced flight crews to work without pay while planes are held at gates, unions representing flight attendants and pilots say.

A rebound in air travel and shortages of staff at customs and security checkpoints mean passengers face long waits to board, take off and disembark – especially at Toronto Pearson.

Most flight crews are paid only when the plane is in motion, a quirk in their contracts that means they are performing their jobs without compensation while at the terminal gate. Additionally, airlines count the unpaid time that begins when the plane arrives at the gate as part of the rest time toward crews’ next flight, creating possible safety and fatigue problems, said Wesley Lesosky, a president with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, who represents 15,000 flight attendants at nine airlines.

“What we’re seeing every day – and it’s only getting worse – is the planes land and then you’re not permitted to allow people off the plane until [Canada Customs] is free to receive you,” Mr. Lesosky said from Port Moody, B.C. “So then the flight attendants are left on the plane with the passengers waiting to be told, ‘Okay, you can let people off.’”

Barret Armann, a pilot and Unifor union president who represents 410 pilots at Sunwing Airlines, said employers have warned pilots they could be fired if they don’t stay on the plane until the last passenger leaves. This can take about two hours at Pearson, he said.

“The flight checks, all of the flight plans that we put in, all of the weather checks, the weight and balance, everything really for the safety of the flight, we do for free. And then when the airplane pushes back [leaves the gate], we start getting paid,” Mr. Armann said in an interview. “And when the airplane arrives at the gate, we stopped getting paid.”

Mr. Lesosky said flight attendants have been subjected to verbal abuse from impatient passengers.

“When you land at 6:03, you’re planning, ‘Okay, at 6:30 I’ll be in the cab, at seven o’clock, I’ll be home,” he said. “When you’re still on the plane at 10 and nobody is giving you any answer as to what’s going on, you’re fit to be tied. We all are. It can definitely get tense. We’ve definitely heard of cases of people being screamed at.”

Both union leaders said they have taken steps with their airlines to ensure people are paid for their work. Sunwing did not respond to an e-mail.

Airlines and airport operators say the government agencies that screen passengers are understaffed and were unprepared for the surge in travellers in recent months. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), The Canada Border Services Agency, the Public Health Agency of Canada and U.S. Customs laid off workers at the start of the pandemic, and have been slow to rehire, leading to delays in passenger checks. These measures currently include health checks, filling out the ArriveCan app, random COVID-19 tests and proof of vaccination.

All these layers add to the time it takes to get through a queue. The tourism industry warns the lineups will get worse in the summer.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which operates Toronto Pearson, has called for the government to drop some health checks to streamline arrivals and departures.

Transport Canada Minister Omar Alghabra met with the head of CATSA, Michael Saunders, to ensure the agency is implementing a plan to hire staff and end the delays, government spokeswoman Laurel Lennox said. “We understand Canadians may be frustrated by this situation, and ask that they remain patient as we work hard with our partners to resolve this issue,” Ms. Lennox said.

Christopher Bloore, head of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, said the delays at Toronto Pearson are holding back the recovery in tourism across Canada. “Toronto Pearson is the gateway for international travellers visiting Toronto and continuing to other Canadian destinations. The current travel experience will have detrimental and lasting impacts on how Toronto and Canada are viewed on the international stage,” Mr. Bloore said.

Mr. Alghabra on Wednesday said understaffed government agencies are not the only reason for the delays. Travellers who are unaccustomed to preparing their luggage for security checks and variable flight schedules are also contributing, he told reporters.

Mr. Armann scoffed at this. “I can assure you they’re not rusty travellers,” Mr. Armann said. “There is a significant issue at the airport. It’s got nothing to do with rust.”

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  • 3 weeks later...

Tory Motion to Return to Pre-Pandemic Travel Rules Defeated

A Conservative Party motion to ask the government to revert to pre-pandemic rules for air travel to reduce airport wait times was defeated today in the House of Commons.

The motion, tabled by Conservative MP and transport critic Melissa Lantsman, was mostly only supported by members of her own party. Liberal MP Joël Lightbound, who publically criticized his party’s COVID-19 restrictions in February, also voted in favour.

The motion, defeated 202 to 117, said a return to pre-pandemic rules and services is needed to deal with “unacceptable wait times” in airports.

It also said that the current restrictions are “ineffective,” that other allied countries have lifted COVID-19 restrictions at airports and other points of entry, and that the measures are hurting Canada’s economy.

“We have not been able to find anyone who has told the government to keep the legacy health restrictions and the assault on mobility rights in place,” said Lantsman in her speech presenting the motion on May 19.

“That leads us on this side of the House to believe that there is no evidence, there are no metrics and there is no good reason, other than the ideological drive to punish those who do not agree with the government.”

Some Liberal MPs countering the motion avoided addressing the matter directly but criticized the Conservatives.

“Is it not the case that the Conservatives are quite selective when it comes to their concerns about economic damage? Will the member clearly denounce the protesters who caused so much economic harm earlier this year?” said Annie Koutrakis, parliamentary secretary to the minister of transport, in reference to the Freedom Convoy protests and blockades earlier this year demanding the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

Koutrakis later said she hears from Canadians “every day” who are angry about the ongoing mandates, but that public discontent was not enough reason to lift them.

“Like them, I would like to put this long ordeal behind us, and yet COVID is not behind us. It is very much still in our midst. One lesson that many Canadians learned over the course of this pandemic was the danger of relaxing public health measures prematurely,” she said.

Bloc Québécois MPs also defended the current restrictions and deplored the low uptake of booster shots in Canada.

“The motion states that ‘current restrictions have been cited…as ineffective’. The science, however, says something completely different,” said MP Luc Désilets.

“This morning, the papers were reporting that Canada’s third-dose vaccination rate ranks second last among G7 countries. Our vaccination rate is apparently 54.3%. What is my colleague’s response to that?”

NDP MP Taylor Bachrach said he agreed with many points from Lantsman’s speech, but asked why the motion does not offer solutions regarding staffing to address current delays. He noted a staffing shortage was the main factor contributing to delays according to testimony at the transport committee from the Canadian Airports Council.

“Removing all of the pandemic measures and pandemic rules is not going to address the massive staffing shortage,” said Bachrach.

“One of the ways we can solve that is to bring back all of the people that the government fired because of the federal vaccine mandates,” replied Lantsman.

Transport Canada (TC)  announced on May 27 that it was taking specific measures to address wait times, including creating a joint committee with stakeholder agencies to address bottlenecks at pre-board security screening and pre-clearance departure checkpoints.

TC also said both the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) were hiring more staff to increase processing capacity.

The federal government has moved slowly in removing restrictions compared to other domestic and foreign jurisdictions, taking an incremental approach to easing border rules and keeping vaccine mandates in place.

Meanwhile, travel has increased among Canadians as other pandemic restrictions have disappeared, leading to lengthy delays in passport renewals and applications.

“We knew that with the economy starting to open up, with COVID starting to be in the rearview mirror, or at least getting into a manageable phase, more people would want to travel,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on May 24 in addressing the wait times to obtain a new passport.

“Ultimately, it is good news that people are starting to travel again,” he added. “It’s great to put this pandemic somewhat behind us even though we know we continue to have to be vigilant and we’re working to solve the challenges around passports as quickly as we possibly can.”

https://www.theepochtimes.com/tory-motion-to-return-to-pre-pandemic-travel-rules-defeated_4500101.html?utm_source=BN_article_paid&utm_campaign=breaking-2022-05-30-ca&utm_medium=email&est=r35MJxFIoxG5%2Bfde%2B0lcEMyzOuTT8L27XJk6ixnM4wsyt8YM5EECvA%2FAOtgqJqRZ

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Looks like it's been a bad weekend at AMS.

https://news.klm.com/update-on-klm-operations-on-whit-monday-weekend/

Amstelveen,
04
June
2022

Update on KLM operations on Whit Monday weekend

At the end of Saturday afternoon, 4 June, KLM was regrettably compelled to decide that passengers at European destinations would no longer be allowed to board flights to Amsterdam. Although a substantial package of measures was taken before the weekend, KLM has faced unforeseen and urgent circumstances that are beyond its control. Due to unfavourable weather conditions and runway maintenance at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, many aircraft couldn’t land or take off in Amsterdam.

This means a large number of KLM flights on Saturday were delayed or even cancelled. The number of passengers who were unable to depart from Amsterdam due to these external factors has increased sharply.
To ensure safe and workable operations at Schiphol for passengers and crew, KLM took the far-reaching decision that no further passengers would be brought to Amsterdam. This decision was taken to ensure that as many stranded passengers as possible can depart from Schiphol on Saturday and that KLM can operate as many flights as possible on Sunday.

It’s incredibly unfortunate that on top of everything else today, we’re also dealing with reduced runway capacity at Schiphol as a result of unfavourable winds and runway maintenance. Despite intervening earlier to ensure workable operations this weekend, today has been another extremely difficult day for our passengers and crew. We are apologizing to our customers for the inconvenience and doing our utmost to ensure that we can return to workable operations as swiftly as possible.”

Rene de Groot - Chief Operating Officer
 
 
 

The decision to stop bringing passengers from European destinations to or via Amsterdam remained in force for the whole of Saturday. Looking at the current weather forecasts, KLM does not expect to continue stopping passengers flying from European destinations into Amsterdam on Sunday and expects to run the operation as planned. 

KLM offers its sincere apologies to passengers who were unable to travel to Amsterdam from certain European destinations, as well as those who were unable to transfer via Amsterdam to other final destinations.

We understand that this decision has great impact on passengers, particularly during the Whit Monday weekend. KLM would like to stress that it is doing its utmost to offer passengers alternative flights as quickly as possible.

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CANADIAN AVIATION NEWS

CANADIAN AIRLINE AND INDUSTRY NEWS

New air traffic control technology to cut delays and emissions at Toronto Pearson – Intelligent Approach

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OTTAWA, ON, June 6, 2022 /CNW/ – NAV CANADA has become the first Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) in North America to deploy the time-based separation tool – Intelligent Approach.

Deployed at Toronto Pearson International Airport, this new technology adds additional tactical capacity across the airport’s five runways, and will help reduce delays, fuel burn and CO2 emissions, particularly in high wind conditions.

NATS (CNW Group/NAV CANADA)
Leidos (CNW Group/NAV CANADA) JPG-High-res-140618_TCL_1247.jpg

NAV CANADA worked closely with its UK counterpart, NATS, and the science and technology leader Leidos, to successfully transition to the Intelligent Approach system on May 28. Intelligent Approach is a tool that helps deliver better on-time performance by optimising the spacing between arriving aircraft.

Jointly developed by NATS and Leidos, the system dynamically calculates the optimum time interval between arrivals based on live weather data and the aircraft type rather than relying on set distances. It then translates that into a graphical marker on a controller’s radar screen, helping to improve spacing consistency and maintain the landing rate even in strong headwinds.

Mark Cooper, Vice President, Chief Technology and Information Officer, NAV CANADA, said: “NAV CANADA continues to collaborate with key partners, such as NATS and Leidos, to bring about the innovations to our processes and systems, such as the Intelligent Approach at Toronto Pearson, that we need to increase our operational efficiency and effectiveness.”

Intelligent Approach was first introduced at Heathrow Airport in 2015, where the use of time-based separation, as a way of maintaining the landing rate, has cut headwind related delays by 62%.

Guy Adams, NATS Strategy and Commercial Director, said: “Delivering Intelligent Approach for Toronto during a global pandemic has been an enormous team effort across NAV CANADA, NATS and Leidos.”

“As the industry now begins to recover from the impact of Covid, it has never been more important for airports make the very best of their existing infrastructure. I look forward to Intelligent Approach delivering even better on time performance and operational resilience at Canada’s busiest airport.”

Graham Emmons, Vice President, Managing Director Civil UK at Leidos, said: “The collaboration on the Toronto deployment through the pandemic is testament to our partnership with NATS and the resilience of all those involved. We look forward to a successful and continued relationship with NAV CANADA.”

NATS and Leidos are also working with Dutch air traffic service provider, LVNL, to support the deployment of Intelligent Approach for Schiphol Airport.

About NAV CANADA

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Posted (edited)
On 5/30/2022 at 6:13 PM, FireFox said:

Tory Motion to Return to Pre-Pandemic Travel Rules Defeated


“ For those who do it frequently, even before the pandemic, going to airports and flying in and out of Canada was one of the most miserable of modern experiences — summed up in the slogan so many passengers are familiar with: “We’re not happy, till you’re not happy.”

 

https://nationalpost.com/opinion/rex-murphy-leave-it-to-trudeau-to-find-a-way-to-make-air-travel-worse-than-it-already-was

Edited by Jaydee
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If Canada was serious about cutting emissions at airports, an easy starting point would be to limit APU operations on the ground. It's what happens all over the world.  It forces Airports to actually have serviceable aircraft ground air conditioning (hot or cold) at each gate. It would save countless dollars in both Fuel and APU hours of operation.

 

 

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Anyone who has operated into and out of both YYZ and LHR can immediately tell which of the two requires some efficiency upgrades. Getting a landing clearance below minimums isn’t unusual in LHR. It was always pretty cool to land on the 27s in LHR, do a 180 onto A or B, and look back up the approach path.

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1 hour ago, mrlupin said:

If Canada was serious about cutting emissions at airports, an easy starting point would be to limit APU operations on the ground. It's what happens all over the world.  It forces Airports to actually have serviceable aircraft ground air conditioning (hot or cold) at each gate. It would save countless dollars in both Fuel and APU hours of operation.

 

 

I wonder however conder the + - (energy / emission savings) of ground air conditioning vs APU.  I guess it would vary greatly depending on the source of the ground air conditioning .  (dedicated electrical units at each gate) vs portable fuel powdered units)

 

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Former NHL player slams Toronto Pearson, Air Canada in video after chaotic night stuck at airport
 

A former NHL player stuck at Toronto Pearson Airport due to delays is critiquing the facility, along with Air Canada, in a video uploaded to social media Monday.

Ryan Whitney, former professional hockey player for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was attempting to travel from Edmonton, Alta. to Boston, Mass. on Sunday when he encountered a series of delays that would see him stuck at the airport until Monday morning.

“I don’t even really know where to explain,” the former NHL player said in a video uploaded to his Twitter account that has since amassed nearly 800,000 views in four hours.

 

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33 minutes ago, Jaydee said:

Former NHL player slams Toronto Pearson, Air Canada in video after chaotic night stuck at airport

OMG former NHL player.......  next we will be highlighting stuff from actors.   🙃

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A situation not isolated to YYZ

Brits Stuck Abroad As Flight Cancelations Leave Passengers Stranded

PUBLISHED 1 DAY AGO
 

The UK’s aviation crisis continues to play havoc with the holiday plans of thousands.

 

The extended bank holiday in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee has been marred by a weekend of chaos at UK airports. As airlines and airport services faced down their busiest post-pandemic surge to date, cancelations, delays and disruption soared, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at their holiday destinations.

While most wouldn’t complain at an extra day or two in a sunny resort, for many British teenagers, the disruption couldn’t have come at a worse time. Ongoing GCSE and A Level exams scheduled for early this week could be missing some candidates, as many families struggle to make it home in time.

Paul Charles, well-known travel commentator and CEO of the PC Agency, estimates that some 15,000 passengers were affected by last-minute changes to their plans. Many of those are believed to be overseas. He notes that it will take three days to clear the backlog.

The UK Government has said it intends to work closely with the aviation industry to put an end to the disruption. However, UK transport secretary Grant Shapps lays the blame firmly at the feet of the industry itself, telling BBC TV that,

 

“The industry itself needs to solve it. The government doesn’t run airports, it doesn’t run the airlines. The industry needs to do that.”

What happened?

According to statistics from Flight Aware, many of the UK airports had extreme levels of cancelations and delays, particularly on inbound flights. Yesterday, Sunday, June 5th, London Gatwick suffered 30 arrivals cancellations, or around 6% of the total, while 39% of arrivals were delayed. London City saw 5% of inbound flights canceled and 29% delayed, while Luton had 3% cancelations and 23% delayed.

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Posted (edited)

Government caught ‘flat-footed’ by travel surge at Toronto airport: former airline exec
 

A former Canadian airline executive says that responsibility for weeks of delays and cancellations at Toronto Pearson International Airport rests on the shoulders of the federal government.

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Duncan Dee, who worked for Air Canada for 15 years until 2013, including a period as chief operating officer, told Global News that security and customs delays were creating “cascading delays” that have left airlines unable to plan or staff their routes.

“The root cause of it is really very poor preparation,” he said. “You have government agencies that are completely unprepared for what everyone knew.”

https://globalnews.ca/news/8903886/government-flat-footed-travel-surge-toronto-airport-former-airline-exec/?utm_source=GlobalNews&utm_medium=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR36IoY0WshaStnkCjiZyKhBVlWIlXNHs8iDMxgaXtYg9J4tILrWPm6zKUs

Edited by Jaydee
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Just a point I would like to have clarified …one that was heard in an interview wrt Pearson Delays

In T1, are international connecting passengers required to deplane, pass through customs and exit into ground side then line up for security for a domestic flight? Conversely, domestic to trans order/international.

The GTAA website indicates that the “bypass” is available, subject to the airline but one of the talking heads say this wasn’t the case.

Also, is there a logistical reason why, in the customs hall, can there not be 2 lines for CBSA to process…one for Canadian passport holders and one for those that don’t. I suspect it’s a “Canadian” thing…(everybody is equal here) unlike EU airports.

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Quote

A former Canadian airline executive says that responsibility for weeks of delays and cancellations at Toronto Pearson International Airport rests on the shoulders of the federal government.

Seems to me that YYZ is not owned or operated by the Federal Governemnt, doesn't this mean that like any other business the ability to do business is also somewhat their responsiblility?   

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19 minutes ago, st27 said:

Just a point I would like to have clarified …one that was heard in an interview wrt Pearson Delays

In T1, are international connecting passengers required to deplane, pass through customs and exit into ground side then line up for security for a domestic flight? Conversely, domestic to trans order/international.

The GTAA website indicates that the “bypass” is available, subject to the airline but one of the talking heads say this wasn’t the case.

Also, is there a logistical reason why, in the customs hall, can there not be 2 lines for CBSA to process…one for Canadian passport holders and one for those that don’t. I suspect it’s a “Canadian” thing…(everybody is equal here) unlike EU airports.

Works in the US and worked in our favour when we got off a large cruise ship in Los Angles. We were herded to the Non US Citizen line and to our amazement walked past a few thousand in the US citizen line. Seems that there were few non US citizen on the ship which worked to our favour (got quite a few dirty looks from the Americans waiting in their line though )

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9 minutes ago, Kargokings said:

Seems to me that YYZ is not owned or operated by the Federal Governemnt, doesn't this mean that like any other business the ability to do business is also somewhat their responsiblility?   

Unfortunately, it is not a “stand alone” business as the efficiency of passenger flows are, for the most part, dictated by Catsa and CBSA, which are federal government departments.

Also, wrt to T1….. the customs hall gets backed up to the point passengers are left on the arriving aircraft waiting to deplane. There is a huge area of the hall  that was not being used (temporary wall) because it was thought there wasn’t enough passenger volume to open it up and staff it….maybe it’s time (at least was the situation 3 years ago. It is indicated on the Gtaa floor plan level 1 arrivals.

https://www.torontopearson.com/en/while-you-are-here/terminal-maps

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24 minutes ago, st27 said:

Unfortunately, it is not a “stand alone” business as the efficiency of passenger flows are, for the most part, dictated by Catsa and CBSA, which are federal government departments.

Also, wrt to T1….. the customs hall gets backed up to the point passengers are left on the arriving aircraft waiting to deplane. There is a huge area of the hall  that was not being used (temporary wall) because it was thought there wasn’t enough passenger volume to open it up and staff it….maybe it’s time (at least was the situation 3 years ago. It is indicated on the Gtaa floor plan level 1 arrivals.

https://www.torontopearson.com/en/while-you-are-here/terminal-maps

Quite right but ..... there are a number of things that could be done by the airport and of course the airlines to help things out.

 

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1 hour ago, st27 said:

I think the airport could proceed with more gates…..the airlines, imo, are held hostage to the infrastructure, or lack of.

Not a bad idea but would the airlines be able to provide sufficient staff to man those gates and ramps? Of course all the gates would, I guess, continue to funnel into the same Customs bottleneck. and around it goes.  Perhaps the only cure (short term) is to reduce the number of inbound flights requiring Customs at what are now peak times.   In other words Slots (for purchase) for incoming flights needed Customs clearance.  Hmmmm instant revenue generator for the Airport 🙃

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I think Pearson is expensive enough…..from a few years ago, and I don’t think it’s gotten any cheaper:

Quote

But to become a true mega-hub comparable in scope and status to the Dubais of the world, a lot needs to change. Pesky taxes and fees make Pearson “the most expensive airport in the world at which to land a plane,” according to a 2012 Senate report. There’s also the problem of congestion — in the airport, on its runways and on surrounding roadways — that will only get worse unless significant investments are made in infrastructure.

 

The World Economic Forum’s 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report ranked Canada 124th out of 141 countries on price competitiveness.

Quote

In 1994, the federal government transferred the management, operation and development of 26 major airports to non-profit airport authorities while retaining ownership of their land and fixed assets and charging them rent.

The GTAA pays Ottawa $130 million a year in ground rents for Pearson. Add in government security charges and, in Ontario, a jet-fuel tax that will hit 6.7 cents a litre by April 2017, and the airport is at a real cost disadvantage compared to its competitors.

 

However, Eng stressed that Pearson also needs the government’s help to speed up security and border processing times, which are notoriously slow. Most passengers at Pearson wait 20 minutes for pre-board screening compared to five minutes for 95 per cent of passengers at London’s Heathrow Airport and Hong Kong International Airport.

So,these excerpts were from an article 6 years ago….I realize Covid has had an effect on operations but these problems have been identified for a long time. There are reports from 3-4 months ago advising Catsa of the rebound in traffic…..so problems predicted are manifesting themselves…… has anything really changed to accommodate the growth over these 6 years??

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