So many foreign flights arrive at Canadian airports that travelers sometimes have to wait for more than an hour on the plane after landing because there is not enough space in the aircraft terminal to accommodate queues, the Canadian Airports Council regrets.
The organization blames the situation on pandemic health measures and asks Ottawa to eliminate arbitrary testing and public health questions at customs. These additional procedures are making it four times longer than before the pandemic to welcome travelers to Canada, said Monette Pasher, acting president of the Airports Council. These extra measures weren’t a problem when people traveled little, she said, but now it’s become really problematic. “As we resume our regular travel, we are finding that we clearly cannot have these public health requirements and testing at our limits,” she said.
The situation is particularly critical at the country’s largest airport. At Pearson International Airport in Toronto, passengers from 120 flights were detained on their plane on Sunday as they waited their turn to queue through customs. This waiting time is sometimes 20 minutes, but can sometimes be more than an hour, Ms Pasher argued. Today’s airport terminals are simply not designed to make going through customs such a time-consuming process, she said: There isn’t the space needed to accommodate all those waiting travelers. The air terminal is also not the right place to conduct COVID-19 testing, Ms Pasher argued, especially since such testing is rarely required in communities at large.
“Resuming regular travel with these health protocols and these tests cannot coexist without a significant load on our system,” Pasher said. The government is aware that long queues at airports frustrate passengers, reads a statement from the Federal Ministry of Transport. “The measures currently in place are based on the recommendations of public health experts and are intended to protect all Canadians. We will continue to adjust our measures based on expert recommendations,” said Transport Canada. Ottawa says it is in contact with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority with the aim of assigning more officers to checkpoints and recruiting more.
However, the federal government does not plan to ask airlines to reduce the number of scheduled flights. From May 1 to 7, 1.3% of the 1,920 travelers selected for testing for COVID-19 tested positive. In comparison, the positivity rate was 3.46% for the period April 1-9, but many more tests were being done at this point. Pandemic health measures were put in place and then abolished over time and successive waves of COVID-19 in Canada. Right now, these travel measures are the least restrictive we’ve seen in months — properly vaccinated travelers are only randomly tested.
Yet the requirements are not in line with those of comparable countries, says Conservative transport spokeswoman Melissa Lantsman. She wants to know why the Canadian government acts on different opinions than other countries. “We take the government at its word that it will receive (scientific) advice and act on it, but it has not shared any of that with the Canadian public,” she said. Prolonged delays at the airport are sending negative messages to travelers and the MP is concerned about the impact it will have on Canadian tourism as the industry struggles to get back on its feet this season after the slump pandemic. “It sends the signal to go elsewhere, that we are not open for business,” she said.
Many players in the travel industry pleaded Monday before a House of Representatives committee for further relaxation. “The measures are damaging our economy and tarnishing our reputation as a destination of choice for tourism, international conferences and sporting events in the eyes of international travelers,” said Robin, senior director of transportation, infrastructure and policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Boy. Witnesses called on Ottawa to review border measures and remove those that are no longer needed.
Photo credit: PC.