Toronto business leaders call on federal government to address staggering wait times at Toronto Pearson Airport
TORONTO, May 12, 2022 /CNW/ – Toronto business leaders, including representatives from the Toronto Region Board of Trade, the Tourism Industry Association of OntarioAccorHotels and the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies have come together to echo the Greater Toronto Airports Authority’s call for the federal government to urgently address the government agency issues plaguing travelers to Toronto Pearson, from Canada biggest airport.
While from Canada borders can be opened to fully vaccinated travellers, from Canada the travel economy is far from restored and airport delays are not helping the recovery. After two years of uncertainty, business leaders are calling on the government to immediately resolve resource issues with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to streamline international arrivals by eliminating the former Public Health Agency from Canada (PHAC) and move randomized COVID-19 testing out of the airport.
As a world-class city whose businesses are just emerging from the crisis of the past two years, long wait times and long delays are the first impression of many international travelers. This is a major obstacle to the resumption of activity. The federal government should have planned for the return to travel, and the issues need to be resolved immediately. International passengers arriving at Pearson are forced to wait up to three hours, often on board the plane, during peak periods before clearing customs. Last week, 7,000 travelers waited more than 90 minutes on planes. As the summer travel season approaches, these wait times are expected to only get worse. Nearly 50% of all arriving international passengers, or 100,000 people, were delayed last week, a 20% increase over the past two weeks. For departing passengers, wait times to clear security are also staggering, reaching up to 75 minutes at peak times.
Before the pandemic, CBSA processing at Pearson took an average of 30 seconds for an arriving passenger; today, processing can take up to four times longer. The increased processing time stems from two non-science-based pandemic relics: mandatory random COVID-19 testing at the airport for 2,000 international passengers arriving per day and duplicate health checks and questions. These two public health measures could be immediately lifted to deal with the problems at the level from Canada hub airports.
Monitoring for potential variants of COVID-19 can be done through proven scientific options such as community sewage testing, which is widely supported by the scientific and medical communities. Wastewater analysis would provide an early warning system for incoming variants without inconveniencing travelers or putting undue pressure on from Canada Transportation system.
John DeSilvaPresident and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade, said, “To solve the long-term economic realities facing our visitor economy, we need to demonstrate to potential visitors, especially our visitors from business, that they can travel easily and without challenging our region. . In short – we have to make it a good experience. Competing cities around the world are doing it successfully. We are painfully and inexcusably behind in Toronto.
“For this reason, we echo the GTAA and urge the federal government to take immediate action and remove old public health requirements to support GTA businesses and help our city return to normal. »
“Toronto Pearson is the gateway for international travelers visiting Toronto and continue to other Canadian destinations. The current travel experience will have lasting and detrimental effects on how Toronto and Canada are seen internationally. Like Toronto and its tourism businesses continue to struggle to find their footing, the last thing we need is another hurdle impeding our collective recovery. We need the government to act now to avoid permanent damage to from Toronto reputation as a premier travel destination,” said Christopher Bloore, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.
“Severe passenger congestion at our nation’s largest airport will have lasting impacts on the of the city of Toronto ability to return to normal. Hotels are operating at a significantly lower rate than industry averages, and long delays and staff shortages at the airport compound the problem. International tourism is already limited, and with major events and conventions now due to take place, we need to ensure our city has the resources and capacity to move them forward,” said Edwin FrizzelRegional Vice-President Accor Central Canada and General Manager of Fairmont Royal York at Accor Hotels.
“from Canada the travel industry, including travel agencies and independent travel agents, are just beginning the long road to recovery. Still, ACTA has received reports of travelers canceling reservations or postponing travel due to delays at government checkpoints. Pearson Airport has already expressed its needs and today we are urging the federal government to meet them. It is time for the government to address resource shortages and remove old COVID-19 policies that are only slowing us down,” said Wendy ParadisePresident and CEO of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA).
SOURCE Unlock Summer
For further information: Media contact: Ciara Dushnisky, ([email protected])