Ahead of what is expected to be a busy travel season, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) is requesting that the Canadian federal government temporarily pause random testing on arrival in airports.
GTAA, which represents Canada’s largest airport in Pearson International, says that international passenger numbers are set to increase by 50% in a few days with a new wave of corporate and leisure travelers coming into Canada.
That increase comes as the delay and cancellation situation at Pearson, which Bloomberg describes as “mayhem,” continues to get worse amid staff shortages. According to the GTAA, 2,700 flights were affected by “metering or holding” in May alone, amounting to close to half a million international arriving passengers having their plans impacted. Travelers could then be delayed even further because of the continued random testing of passengers entering Canada.
The GTAA is asking the random testing policy to be dropped at least until issues with the ArriveCAN app, which is still a requirement for inbound travelers to Canada, can be sorted out.
The app has caused problems for travelers, some of which have had difficulty navigating it, and others who still aren’t aware of the requirement, including a fully-vaccinated Montreal couple who were recently ordered to quarantine for two weeks because they didn’t fill out the app. Others have also been forced to quarantine or fined because they didn’t fill out the app properly or not at all.
If nothing is done, Canada could “lose billions of dollars from tourism and business activities if travelers decide that coming to Canada this summer simply isn’t worth the hassle,” Deborah Flint, the president and CEO of the GTAA said.
"Toronto Pearson's challenges are unique simply due to scale by virtue of the fact that we are Canada's largest airport and global hub for connectivity all over the world, with much higher volumes of passengers and, importantly, more international passengers than any other Canadian airport," Flint continued. "We are committed to collaborating with all partners to implement concrete solutions."
It’s not just Toronto, either—the Canadian Airports Council, which represents over 100 Canadian airports, along with other industry groups also recently made the same call.
Right now, there is no specific timeline as to when the rest of Canada’s COVID-19-era policies will be wound down. The random testing measure and use of the ArriveCan app are required at least through June 30 after Health Canada extended it at the end of May.