Today, the President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (“GTAA”), Deborah Flint, announced the comprehensive measures that Toronto Pearson International Airport (“Toronto Pearson”) is implementing to support a seamless, predictable, and enjoyable passenger experience during the summer travel rush.
“Last summer was challenging for passengers, and we have responded with a full suite of process improvements and practices with our partners to deliver a more customer-centric and reliable experience ,” stated Deborah Flint, President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority. “Our new approaches include more resources, transparency, and resiliency planning; as we are excited to welcome passengers for a robust summer travel in our improved airport environment ”
In response to the challenges encountered last summer due to the sudden resurgence of air travel following pandemic restrictions, Toronto Pearson has initiated a series of improvements, technological advancements, and staffing increases to enhance efficiency, cleanliness, and create a positive passenger experience.
The airport has fast-tracked its modernization plans by investing in innovative technologies that is already helping passengers navigate the airport more easily and more quickly. Innovations and processes that will help smooth the travel experience at Pearson Airport for Summer 2023 include:
- Self-service infrastructure:
- Contactless check-in and boarding processes;
- A new partnership with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to deploy biometric e-gates, expediting customs clearance for travellers;
- New digital technology at check-in, gates and baggage areas to replace the current generation of self-service tech as it nears the end of its life.
- YYZ Express: Expanding hours for pre-booking spaces in security lines and putting it into service at every security screening point.
- Digital mapping: Deploying enhanced digital mapping tools to empower travellers with better information as they navigate our terminals.
- An upgraded baggage system featuring AI that anticipates overloading and detects potential breakdowns before they occur.
- Capturing data and pushing accountability with airlines and their ground handlers on proper training and staffing availability. Better staffing will reduce baggage recirculation, maintain baggage system capacity, prevent bag jams and reduce related delays at check-in and departure.
- Creating a resource pool of employees and contracted staff who would be available to move bags by hand during irregular operations.
- Staffing: Bolstering staffing in critical areas such as bussing, baggage handling, and terminal operations. Last week, the GTAA the announced the hiring of 130 team members. This effort complements the collaboration between Toronto Pearson and its partners to support their operations, including working alongside airlines to balance their activities and resources during peak travel periods.
- Real-time analysis: Deploying a new customer-experience platform and dashboard that will provide real-time analysis and insights on key customer sentiment metrics. This will give our staff better insights, flag issues for our airline partners and address service issues faster.
- Real-time confidence: Installing new sensors and pulling screening data to post wait times for all agency checkpoints in the terminal and on our website. This will give our passengers better live information and a clear understanding of what to expect.
- Slot assignments: Proactively managing the volume of flights coming into Toronto Pearson with partners on an hourly basis to ensure that the airport ecosystem is capable of receiving and processing these incoming passengers in a timely and efficient way.
- Airline planning: Asking airlines and their service providers to verify staffing and operational plans for regular and irregular operations. This will reduce staffing-related Air Traffic Management Initiatives (A-TMIs), disruptions, delays, and missed connections, and help ensure that they can deliver their summer 2023 schedules.
- On-time performance: Meeting with airlines and their ground handlers and monitoring performance in areas such as check-in, baggage delivery, gate holds, no-crew events and overall staffing levels. We’re asking for corrective action plans in areas where performance does not meet acceptable standards.
- Aircraft parking: Limiting non-authorized aircraft parking beyond 12 hours. More availability will mean fewer arrival gate holds, better on-time performance and increased resilience in irregular operations.
- Runways and taxiways: Mitigating risk with aggressive airfield lighting and electrical projects; and focus on runways and taxiways to maintain their CAT III landing status. Alleviating the risk of emergency repairs will allow us to avoid disruptions to operating schedules.
These enhancements have already yielded tangible results, significantly improving the passenger experience through faster check-in and boarding processes, reduced wait times, and smoother baggage handling.
As Torontonians, Ontarians, Canadians, and travellers from all around the world make their travel plans for this summer, they can be confident that the Toronto Pearson team is committed to ensuring a pleasant journey through our airport, facilitating a stress-free start to their travels.
The GTAA acknowledges the crucial role that collaboration plays in the continued success and growth of the airport.
The GTAA was pleased to see the changes introduced in the recent federal budget, in particular improved data sharing, CATSA funding and border modernization.
The federal government can also help smooth the passenger experience this summer by implementing a trusted traveller program and helping the airport gain additional US-customers pre-clearance agents to reduce wait times.