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Canada’s airports welcomed engagement by Transport Minister Marc Garneau with Canada’s airport and air carrier communities on a host of topics, including the traveller experience. But with strong growth in passenger volumes, airports encouraged the minister to re-initiate commitments made last year for security screening at airports–the biggest source of complaints from air travellers today.
In a meeting of the Air Industry Standing Ministerial Advisory Committee held in Montreal on May 19, Canada’s airports outlined how they experienced strong growth of 5.4 per cent in passenger volumes last year. This growth was even higher at many of Canada’s busiest international airports, leading to long lines and weary travellers at security screening and Canadian border services at airports.
“Canada’s airports work closely with our air carrier partners in our shared areas of passenger experience,” said CAC chair Howard Eng, in remarks to the minister as part of the meeting, which brings together leaders from Canada’s airport and air carrier communities. “The most common source of complaints by air travellers remains within the purview of government: The experience at screening and, increasingly at our air borders.”
With strong growth in passenger forecasts well into the future, airports have an immediate concern that service level standards be established for security screening performed by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and a funding model be put into place to allow resources to grow with demand.
Airports are also urging government to get back on track with deployment of technologies and processes, most notably CATSA+, to improve the flow and experience of passengers while lowering operating costs.
“We need to do better,” said Garneau in his Transportation 2030 speech in Montreal last November. “By comparison, our competitor countries are doing better. Wait times in Germany, France and Belgium range between 90 and 95 per cent of passengers waiting 10 minutes or less. We will work to set internationally competitive targets, allowing Canada’s airports to keep up with hubs in other countries.”
Garneau committed last year to looking at innovations, new equipment and technology and CATSA governance. He also indicated government would look to hold CATSA more accountable to a service standard and its funding more responsive and sustainable.
“It should be a ‘good news story’. Record air travellers are boosting international visitor numbers, which means happy tourism operators and extra tax revenues for government. But permanent, structural changes to how screening is delivered and funded are needed to keep air travellers moving through Canadian airports this year,” said CAC president Daniel-Robert Gooch.