Take action to reduce Pearson airport delays, Mississauga officials tell Ottawa
Mississauga officials on Monday called on the federal government to take immediate action to reduce “unacceptable” wait times at Pearson International Airport.
Officials said the action includes ending subjecting international travelers to random COVID-19 testing and duplicate health screening questions as the summer travel season begins.
Businesses that depend on tourism need the airport to process passengers efficiently, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie told reporters at a news conference inside Terminal 1. Crombie and other executives spoke at National Tourism Week.
“It’s important that tourists have the best experience possible,” Crombie said. “It’s so important that we put our best foot forward, especially here at Pearson, which is the first place many tourists land in our city.”
The federal government must take action to address the problem, she said.
“Mississauga’s tourism industry, and indeed the province’s entire tourism industry, depends on Pearson’s ability to operate effectively. This means giving passengers the best possible experience as soon as they walk through those doors.
Crombie said the Canadian and US governments understand wait times are an issue. She said Mississauga is willing to help those governments find solutions, which she says include eliminating some duplication in screening, security and customs processes, as well as investing to recruit and hire more personal.
Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino released a statement on Friday saying their government is taking action to end delays at Canadian airports, including “working with its sub-departments.” contractors to increase the number of screening officers at passenger checkpoints.
“Currently, there are approximately 400 additional screeners in various phases of their training across the country who will be deployed by the end of June,” the statement said.
Federal ministers also say they are maintaining “adequate security screening” and “working with airports, airlines and other airport partners to find solutions to reduce airport delays ahead of the peak summer season.” .
“Travel is meant to be a seamless experience”
Victoria Clarke, CEO of Tourism Mississauga, said Pearson is the gateway for international travelers continuing on to other Canadian destinations. She said the longer processing times are due to two remaining emergency pandemic policies: random COVID-19 testing for arriving international passengers and duplicate health checks.
“The recent travel experience will have lasting and detrimental effects on how our region is perceived internationally and has negative effects on new international investments for the Toronto area,” Clarke said.
“Travel is meant to be a seamless experience,” she added.
“At the height of the pandemic, our industry understood that we had to make sacrifices for the good of the country, but now that those times are behind us, those obstacles have become impossible to justify.”
Clarke said the federal government must act quickly to help resolve the “unacceptable issues plaguing our air travellers.”
Before the pandemic, processing took an average of 30 seconds for arriving passengers, but now that wait can be four times longer, she said.
Wait times are impacting businesses, official says
Trevor McPherson, CEO of the Mississauga Board of Trade, said the delays at Pearson are already having economic repercussions. If the federal government doesn’t act quickly, the situation could get worse, he said. Economic success depends on Pearson’s success, he said.
“After years of challenges to our local travel economy and the loss of 94,000 jobs in Mississauga’s tourism-related industries during the pandemic, our businesses and visitors rely on a smooth and efficient airport process to access what our region has to offer,” he said. .
Doug Allingham, chairman of the board of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which operates Pearson Airport, said thousands of travelers were forced to wait more than 90 minutes, often on planes, before to be able to enter the customs hall. .
Allingham said nearly half of all international passengers arriving at Pearson experienced some sort of delay last week.
“We need urgent action now,” he said.