Traffic committee holds emergency meeting on airport delays


The House Transportation Committee is holding an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss whether to launch an investigation into the airport delays and flight cancellations.

Airlines and airports have struggled with a spike in travel this summer, combined with staffing shortages affecting both carriers and federal agencies.

That led to flight cancellations, baggage delays and widespread queues, with the Greater Toronto Area’s Pearson International Airport being the hardest hit by these issues.

John Gradek, head of McGill University’s aviation management program, said airlines are aggressively ramping up their flight schedules as travel resumes but are not mindful of their own labor shortages. surname.

Airlines laid off workers at the start of the pandemic and are facing challenges with hiring enough workers back into the industry.

“Airlines have rolled out a very aggressive set of flights and schedules to essentially capture as much of this traffic as possible, and they don’t really understand how the impact will be. for the capacity of the aviation infrastructure and ecosystem to handle all this traffic,” said Gradek.

Gradek said airports were also responsible for the delay because they did not limit the number of flights to accommodate their capacity. Part of the problem, he said, is that they don’t have the authority to order airlines to reduce flights.

Last week, the head of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority said delays at Canada’s busiest travel hub were dropping, but stopped short of making specific commitments or schedules. possible to improve travel time in the future.

Other airports around the world have asked airlines to cut flights. The UK’s Heathrow Airport has asked airlines to stop selling tickets for summer flights as it imposes a cap on the number of passengers per day.

“Airlines don’t want to reduce schedules, because if you reduce schedules, you reduce your market share,” Gradek said.

He said he would pay close attention to any proposed solutions from the transport commission to ensure that in the coming time when the country faces a crisis, airport disruptions will be limited.

Friendly efforts to resolve the issue didn’t work, so “we need some authority,” he said.

In June, Air Canada announced that it would cut more than 15% of its July and August schedule, more than 9,500 flights, due to the strained air transport system. Meanwhile, WestJet said it had “proactively” removed flights from its Pearson schedule, predicting summer travel would be difficult.

Transport Canada says the government and the airline industry are working together to improve travel, including through stakeholder meetings, upskilling staff and improving the ArriveCAN app .

Air Canada is also facing the heat for denying passenger claims, citing staff shortages due to the pandemic.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on August 8, 2022.

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