LONDON – On July 8, The Government of Canada made an announcement that covers all of the actions they and their relevant parties are taking in aim to try and reduce congestion at Canadian airports.
The Actions Taken
Following two meetings that took place last week, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, the Minister of Health, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, the Minister of Public Safety, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, and the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, all issued the following update on their progress on reducing congestion at Canadian airports since making initial announcements about the issues the country was facing back in April and May.
The first of the two meetings happened on July 4, when Minister Alghabra met with the countries flag carrier airline, Air Canada’s, Chief Executive Officer, Michael Rousseau, for a discussion around the actions that have been and are being taken to rapidly hire more staff to cope with the increase in travel demand.
Following this discussion, on July 7, Minister Alghabra then re-met with Michael Rousseau for a tour of Air Canada’s SOCC (Systems Operation Control Centre). Following this tour, the Minister then met with WestJet’s Chief Executive Officer, Alexis von Hoensbroech for a tour of their operations center.
Since the initial announcements, the Government of Canada and their aviation industry partners have carried out the following actions –
- Nearly 1,200 CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority) staff have been hired since April throughout Canada and has now secured over 100% of their targeted requirements for the summer season at both Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and Vancouver International Airport (YVR).
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new task force to significantly improve passport processing, and immigrant applications and monitor the airport situations on June 25.
- The CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) is maximizing its officer availability and bringing in additional student officers. As well as this, GTAA (Greater Toronto Airports Authority) is working closely with the CBSA to bring in additional eGates.
- The random mandatory COVID-19 testing will remain suspended until mid-July for passengers who qualify as being fully vaccinated.
- ArriveCAN compliance has been updated whereby it will impose additional obligations on airlines that have repeated cases where the same flight is occurring with high levels of ArriveCAN non-compliance.
- They have also made improvements on ArriveCAN so that it operates faster and includes some new additional features that will speed up customs and immigration declarations.
In terms of the country’s progress on these improvements in helping to ease the congestion situation, with the new CATSA staff, approximately 80% of passengers were screened within 15 minutes between June 27 to July 3.
Since the beginning of May, these are the percentages at each major Canadian airport where passengers were screened by CATSA within 15 minutes –
- Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) – 79%
- Calgary International Airport (YYC) – 90%
- Vancouver International Airport (YVR) – 85%
- Montreal Trudeau International Airport (YUL) – 70%
Based on this latest announcement and its included data, it is evident that there have been some improvements with the situation at Canadian airports, however, there is still plenty more to be done to increase the percentages at all major airports, ideally to the 95% mark.
It will be interesting to see in the coming months if any more improvements do take place and how much of an effect those improvements have on the current situation.