Thursday, April 18, 2024

Waiting in Montreal Trudeau | “I’ve never seen a line like that”

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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An increasing number of travelers find themselves stuck in seemingly endless lines in Montreal Trudeau. At the gates of the summer season, the delays seen at other airports appear here as well. Labor shortages and sanitary measures will test the patience of vacationers.

Posted yesterday at 7:00 am

Julian Arsino

Julian Arsino

Jose Duval couldn’t believe her eyes on May 22, when she returned from Cancun, Mexico. After half an hour of waiting on the runway because the plane couldn’t make it to the runway, she wasn’t done with her troubles when the plane left.

“It hurts, it hurts, it hurts,” she says, in a phone interview. I’ve never seen a queue like that. The waiting area to get to customs was crowded. You had to wait at the back of the building before you could even get to the stairs to the customs area. Wait. »

The plane that carried mI Duvall landed just before 7 p.m. in Montreal Trudeau. Three hours later, the latter did not leave the airport. His advice to vacationers? patience.

If you want to travel, you have to accept that there is a shortage of staff. Waiting like that, it never happened to me and I took trips.

Jose Duval, who waited many hours when she arrived in Montreal Trudeau on May 22

If the picture in Trudeau’s Montreal does not yet look as horrific as it does in Toronto (Pearson) and Vancouver, where several reports have pointed to the tragedies of travelers, it risks deteriorating as the volume of users is expected to increase. With the approach of the summer season.

Press photo

A queue in the terminal lobby to arrive at the customs waiting area on May 21

Earlier this month, Aéroports de Montréal (ADM), Montréal-Trudeau’s director, thought it was doing well with more difficult days expected during the summer. Many travelers contact Journalism To show a very different situation.

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“Things are definitely going to get worse before they get better because we’re not yet at our peak,” said Robert Koukonis, president of consultancy AirTrave.

There will be more flights and more passengers. It will also be necessary to train recruits at the airports. Things will not recover quickly.

Robert Kokounis, president of consulting firm Air Trav

In an email, ADM continues to recommend that travelers arrive “at least three hours before the departure of their flight,” “regardless of the destination.”

what is wrong?

The challenges are many. Health measures, such as random testing and information to be entered into the application Access , Protocol burden. There are also fewer customs officers, according to the Customs and Immigration Federation. The organization claims to represent 200 agents in Montreal, or 25% less than it was before the pandemic.

“We shouldn’t be surprised when so few customers are assigned to check passengers and so many tables are empty,” the union laments, urging Ottawa to ramp up staff.

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) lacks officers to screen passengers before they leave. The federal agency hopes to add up to 175 additional officers — about 30% of Montreal Trudeau’s current workforce.

In the context of labor shortages, recruits do not run on the streets and training is spread over four weeks. Up to a month can elapse between the date of hire and access to the job. These agents must be recruited by the subcontractor Securitas Aviation Canada. The company is CATSA’s partner for airports in Eastern Canada.

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“For employment issues, it has been the same for over a year with some areas more challenging than others,” Jean-Charles Grace, Securitas president, said in an email.

He did not say when CATSA announced its job requirements. It was not possible to tell if Securitas was surprised by her client.

At the end of Friday, Trudeau’s government acknowledged the problem, without specifying when the situation would return to order. Health protocols are still in place, and therefore Ottawa is primarily dependent on adding staff to airports.

“enormous pressure”

You also had to be patient before picking up your bags? This is because there is sand in the gear there as well. Many companies are struggling to find the necessary personnel, for example, to refuel aircraft on the tarmac and unload baggage.

Before the pandemic, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) said it represented more than 1,000 people at airlines such as Air Canada and other service providers such as Swissport and ATS. According to the union’s coordinator in Quebec, Michel Richer, the number of members has shrunk by half.

“The workers have been laid off during the pandemic and have not come back,” says Mr. Richer. Companies are adding flights, but no more employees. This puts enormous pressure on the system. Companies are trying to hire. »

No improvement is expected in the short term because training of new employees does not happen overnight.

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