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Monday,  March 4, 2024 11:40 PM 

YYZ expecting record traffic this winter, outlines preparedness plan

YYZ expecting record traffic this winter, outlines preparedness plan
Greater Toronto Airport Authority President & CEO Deborah Flint outlined Toronto Pearson's winter strategy on Nov. 30. (Screenshot)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Toronto Pearson airport (YYZ) is expecting a 10 per cent increase in passenger traffic this holiday season and has outlined steps to improve the passenger experience.

Appearing at a press conference at Pearson’s Terminal 1 on Thursday (Nov. 30), the Greater Toronto Airport Authority's (GTAA) President and CEO Deborah Flint said Canada's largest airport will implement new, cutting-edge predictive technologies for weather and delay forecasting.

“Winter will always bring challenging weather, so we are reinforcing tools to equip passengers with more information and control over their travel experience,” Flint told reporters.

To manage the increased demand, Pearson will increase its staffing and expand its deicing capacity, adding snow removal equipment.

A press conference was held Nov. 30 to outline YYZ's winter readiness plan. (@TorontoPearson/X)

“This season, we've significantly enhanced our snow removal capabilities with a fleet of 106 specialized snow clearing machines, including snowplows, tractors, wheel loaders, deicing trucks, snow blowers, and front-mounted sweepers,” Pearson wrote on X (formally known as Twitter).

The airport's airside snow removal operations consist of an area roughly 5,000,000 square metres – “the equivalent of over 3,000 NHL hockey rinks,” the facility noted.

“Our dedicated team of 190 employees in airfield operations, and 80 contracted employees work 24/7 to keep runways clear for the safe arrival and departure of aircraft during snow events,” YYZ added.

Lost luggage & AI  

The announcements come months after Toronto Pearson was ranked the second-worst in North America for overall traveller satisfaction in the “mega airport” category of a J.D. Power survey.

As for managing lost luggage, the airport says it will turn to artificial intelligence (AI) to help track and manage missing items.

Toronto Pearson says it will use artificial intelligence (AI) to help track and manage missing luggage items. (X/@TorontoPearson).

“In line with our commitment to innovation, we've introduced an advanced AI system for baggage handling that allows us to track and manage luggage more efficiently,” Pearson wrote on X.

READ MORE: Toronto & Montreal airports rank low in customer satisfaction, study says

In a press release, Flint said she was pleased with a “successful summer travel season because all of our aviation and agency partners, like airlines and NAV Canada, were significantly more resilient.”

“By taking proactive steps to manage congestion and by closely collaborating with them, On-Time Performance (OTP) improved measurably – to the tune of a six per cent increase this month, which represents a 10 per cent increase over the same period last year for all carriers – as well as a reduction in airplane holds from over 1,700 in Summer 2022 to 13 in Summer 2023,” she said.

Not all Canadian carriers can sing that song, however.

Earlier this month, aviation data from Cirium revealed that Air Canada and WestJet recently ranked last in on-time performance among carriers across the continent.

Winter is coming

As for improving the experience at Toronto Pearson experience, services such as YYZ Express, Mobile Passport Control (MPC) for expedited pre-clearance into the United States, and advanced declaration for efficient customs and immigration advanced declaration will continue to be promoted.

Winter is coming to Toronto Pearson airport. (X/@AirCanada)

“We are committed to providing our passengers with a predictable, reliable, and enjoyable travel experience. We continue to invest in expanding and modernizing facilities and equipment, as well as increased staffing, to deliver a high-quality experience at Toronto Pearson, which is one element of our dedication to excellence,” stated Flint. 

“Winter will always bring challenging weather, so we are reinforcing tools to equip passengers with more information and control over their travel experience. There is nothing like the energy of the holiday travel season, and we enthusiastically welcome you here at Toronto Pearson.”

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