Canada’s International airports are completely unprepared for borders to reopen. A trip through the airport could take anything up to eight hours.
Non-essential international travel is extremely limited in Canada. However, special considerations have been made for: Canadians being repatriated, essential workers and those emigrating for work.
Current wait times exceed three hours, despite a 20 times reduction in traffic.
Daniel Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council, said airports working under current guidelines have no way of operating with higher volumes.
“Part of the problem is the insistence on the two-metre physical distance,” he said. “You very quickly hit capacity when you make that requirement. So we can’t grow the numbers and keep everything the way it is right now. It’s not physically possible.”
According to IATA and Tourism Economics, wait times could reach 5.5 hours at 75 per cent of pre-Covid traffic levels – and up to eight hours per trip at 100 per cent!
The recent federal budget has moved to address the shortcomings. The government recently announced $82.5 million to fund Covid testing infrastructure and $6.7 million for sanitation equipment for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
Ottawa has also lined up a significant $656 million to revolutionise Canada’s border security.
“We were quite pleased to see in the federal budget the Canada Border Services Agency getting some significant funds for border modernization, which will include things like touchless technology and less contact in terms of interactions with border services,” he said.
Steps are being made in the right direction. But, with millions of Canadians itching to escape the country this summer, will provisions be made in time?
Justin Trudeau addressed the need for a “mutually recognised” international vaccine passport at the G7 last weekend. And, with the Canadians no longer having to quarantine from early July, airports have significant ground to make up.