"Airlines and airports around the world were hit hard by the pandemic, and those in Canada were no exception. As air travel returned through 2022, Canadians faced unacceptable flight delays, long lineups at airports, and
of the federal government's budget. "While delays have been reduced in recent months, the federal government is acting to strengthen air passenger rights and improve Canadians' experiences at the airport."
Along with proposals to put Canada's air passenger rights in line with "leading international approaches" to ensure Canadians are "fairly compensated" for travel delays that are within an airline's control, several other initiatives are meant to help the everyday traveller navigate airports with fewer headaches.
Here is a look at five reasons why the passenger experience at Pearson Airport is likely to see more improvements and how Canada's budget for 2023 could impact airport operations.
Investing in airport security
The biggest financial commitment in the 2023 federal budget to help improve the overall airport experience was a big, $1.8 billion investment in the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).
That investment, set to be spread out over five years and start in 2023-2024, would help CATSA "maintain and increase its level of service, improve screening wait times, and strengthen security measures at airports," according to the government's budget.
With a focus on further reducing delays and improving communication and coordination between airports, airlines, and CATSA, the federal budget also included a proposed amendment to the Canada Transportation Act and an investment in Transport Canada.
Amending the Canada Transportation Act would require data to be reported and shared between airports and carriers, while an additional $5.2 million investment with Transport Canada that would see the agency collect and analyze "air sector performance data."
Another proposed change for travellers in the 2023 federal budget is an amendment to the Customs Act.
While the details on these suggested changes are limited, the government said in its budget the change would, "transform how low-risk travellers are processed when entering Canada," and added that this will be achieved through the
"enhanced use of technology."
In a separate
from the president of the Canadian Airports Council, Monette Pasher said these changes would "modernize travelers’ experience at the border."
Expanding digital tools
Pearson Airport already has examples of enhanced technology and digital tools in place that were created to help improve the overall passenger experience.
More travellers are now eligible to use
to book a spot in line at airport security up to 72 hours before their flight and those travelling to the United States can use the
U.S Customs and Border Control 'Mobile Passport Control' app
to streamline the process of going through customs, which was recently expanded for use across more Canadian airports.
Pearson airport said it "welcomes" the 2023 federal budget's commitments to the travel industry and "
initiatives to support more use of digital tools to improve air travel for Canadians and visitors."
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Like YYZ Express and the US MBP app, Pearson Airport has also recently introduced artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help reduce wait times.
The airport is the first in Canada to test the technology and recently
signed a letter of intent
to purchase the so-called 'HEXWAVE' technology that is used to detect dangerous or prohibited items during the airport security process.
While the 2023 federal budget made no specific mention of AI technology, Pearson Airport and Air Canada's venture into AI could certainly fall under the umbrella of "enhanced use of technology."
While time will tell if these commitments in the 2023 federal budget truly help to improve the passenger experience at Toronto Pearson and the rest of Canada's airports, they have been welcomed by industry leaders.
"Despite challenging times, airports across Canada have strived to recover from the financial impact of the pandemic, keep pace with traveler expectations, and innovate for the 21st century — but they cannot do it alone," said Canadian Airports Council President Monette Pasher. "To that end, we are encouraged by the practical, incremental policy steps taken in the 2023 federal budget to assist our sector and improve the passenger journey."
"Airports across the country welcome these new measures," said Pasher. "They underline our vital role in the economy and will make a tangible, positive impact on the journey ahead. However, there is still more work ahead to get airports fully down the runway to recovery."