Canada’s airports applaud government commitment to improve screening for travellers

Canadian Airports Council Press Release | November 3, 2016

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 26 seconds.

The Canadian Airports Council applauded Transport Minister Marc Garneau for measures announced on Nov. 3 to improve the experience and competitive environment for Canadian air travellers, including a commitment to fix passenger security screening wait times at major air gateways.

The trade association, which serves as the voice of Canada’s airports community, applauded the government’s commitment to establish a globally competitive service level standard and revitalized funding model for airport screening performed by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA)–a government crown corporation.

“Security screening is a top priority for travellers. While CATSA plays an essential role in ensuring the safety and security of air travel, our passengers continue to express concern about long wait times in Canada compared to other international airports,” said CAC chair and Greater Toronto Airports Authority president and CEO, Howard Eng. “We are pleased the minister is seized with this issue and we encourage the government to take steps quickly to improve security screening wait times to keep Canada globally competitive.”

Reforms to the provision and funding of screening have become a top concern of Canada’s airports community. This is needed to support continued growth in passenger volumes–up as high as eight per cent at some major gateways.

While Canadian air travellers pay for security screening through the Air Travellers Security Charge on their tickets, CATSA receives only some of those funds as determined by annual federal budgets. At present, there is no service level standard and passengers can wait over an hour at some major gateway airports at peak travel periods.

“Our colleagues at CATSA perform a difficult but vital function at Canada’s airports. After the growing wait times of the past five years and with passenger volumes forecast to grow in the next decade, there has never been greater industry unity in the need to fix this core part of the passenger experience,” said CAC president Daniel-Robert Gooch. “We look forward to working with Minister Garneau and his officials in the coming weeks and months on a permanent solution to support the ever-growing demand for all of the important services that CATSA performs at Canadian airports.”

Canada’s airports and major air carriers have submitted to Minister Garneau a service level recommendation that would see 95 per cent of originating passengers at the eight largest airports screened in less than 10 minutes, and even quicker standards for connecting passengers with no passenger waiting more than 20 minutes.

Additional measures for air travellers, competition

Also announced were a series of other measures targeted at air travellers, including changes to foreign ownership limits on airlines to promote greater competition. The new rules will raise the limit to 49 per cent, as recommended in the Canada Transportation Act Review advice to government on transport policy submitted to parliament earlier this year.

“A strong competitive environment for air travel means lower fares and more people able to travel by air,” said CAC vice chair Sam Samaddar, who is also the airport director at the Kelowna International Airport. “An increase in foreign ownership to 49 per cent can support new competitive choices in the market for Canadian air travellers.”

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