The federal government has released an update on ongoing efforts to reduce wait times at Canadian airports in a joint statement on Wednesday.
“The Government of Canada recognizes the impact that significant wait times at some Canadian airports are having on travellers. We are working with airports, air carriers, baggage handlers, and other partners to implement solutions to reduce delays as we approach the summer peak season,” the joint statement read.
“Our efforts are having an impact – as wait times for security continue to decrease at all major airports.”
Initiatives include increasing and expediting hires for Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) screening officers, encouraging usage of ArriveCAN, and improving communications with travellers to better prepare them for their journeys.
According to the joint statement, only three per cent of all passengers at YVR and Toronto Pearson International Airport are now waiting more than 30 minutes in line.
YVR sees shorter wait times, but more can be done
“The CATSA line up situation is seemingly better at YVR, when compared to other large airports in Canada,” said a spokesperson for YVR.
Regardless, YVR continues to recommend all travellers to arrive at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours for U.S. and international travel.
“Wait times at any airport, including the Vancouver International Airport, can occur for various reasons, even when staffing levels are optimal, and can fluctuate throughout the day based on passenger volume/number of flights,” said Sandra Alvarez, CATSA spokesperson.
Alvarez noted that simultaneous peaks of passenger traffic have been happening as air travel recovers. This makes it difficult to redistribute resources between checkpoints and could contribute to longer wait times.
CATSA’s hiring efforts started last year and although there is still a long way to go, they have been optimizing resources by putting pre-certified screening officers to work for non-screening functions, said Alvarez.
As of June 2022, there are approximately 934 active screening officers at YVR including new recruits, compared to approximately 1,050 in February 2020.
But increasing the number of CATSA screening officers is only one part of the solution.
“While we are encouraged to hear that the federal government and CATSA are actively attempting to hire more security screening agents in airports across Canada, the workplace issues our members are facing continue and these cause new and experienced staff to leave or not return,” said Dave Flowers, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 140.
YVR screening officers rallied for better working conditions just last month, and the union hopes that the government and CATSA will take an active role in addressing these issues as well.
“Expediting training requirements at the possible cost of passenger safety is not the answer,” Flowers added.