More than half of Pearson flights still delayed, no timeline for normal operations

·2 min read
Travellers crowd the security queue in the departures lounge at the start of the Victoria Day holiday long weekend at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 20, 2022.  REUTERS/Cole Burston
Just 44 per cent of flights through Pearson International Airport were on time over the last week. (REUTERS/Cole Burston)

Less than half of all flights going through Pearson International Airport were on time last week, but the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) says the situation is improving.

GTAA president and chief executive Deborah Flint said at press conference Friday that only 44 per cent of flights were on time over the last week, an improvement from an average of 35 per cent over the previous four weeks.

Flint also said that wait times have improved in recent days for security screenings as well as baggage arrivals. In the last week, 82 per cent of passengers were screened in under 15 minutes, a 1 percentage point improvement from the week before. The average wait time for bags to arrive at the carousel for domestic flights is 24 minutes, a two-minute improvement from the prior week.

There were also fewer flights where passengers were held on board because of a lack of capacity in the customs hall, Flint said. Last week there were 19 flights that were held, down from an average of 60 holds per week over the previous four weeks.

A surge in travel demand pushed Pearson Airport to the top of global flight delay lists. According to data compiled for CNN Travel by flight tracking website FlightAware, 52.5 per cent of scheduled flights between May 26 and July 19 were delayed at Pearson Airport, making it the worst airport in the world for when it comes to delayed flights.

Flint said on Friday there are a range of factors that have contributed to the issues at the airport, including previous health requirements that slowed down processing, and labour shortages. While flight delays and wait times for security screenings and baggage arrivals have improved, she did not say when passengers should expect operations to return to normal.

"The reality is this ecosystem here, and at airports around the world, is still fragile. There is still significant work to be done to get Pearson back on track," she said.

Air Canada, the country's largest airline, apologized to customers earlier this week for the "operational instability" passengers have faced in recent months. The airline said the ongoing issues have been primarily driven by staffing challenges that have impacted airport security screening, border customs processing, air traffic control, equipment, supply chain, aircraft catering and fuelling partners. It also pointed to a series of mechanical failures at airport baggage handling systems at key hubs.

Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.

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