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Pearson to change its extreme weather protocol

April 11, 2014, Toronto - Canada's busiest airport is changing how it deals with extreme winter weather and other disruptions after a deep freeze earlier this year triggered a partial shutdown that slowed travel for days.


April 11, 2014
By The Canadian Press

The Greater Toronto Airport Authority issued a dozen recommendations Thursday to improve operations at Pearson
International Airport after reviewing the January incident, which
prevented North American flights from landing for more than eight hours.

 

"The unusual combination of winter weather conditions experienced at
Toronto Pearson between January 5 and 9, 2014 caused numerous unforeseen
challenges that significantly inconvenienced many passengers and their
families," Vijay Kanwar, chair of the agency's board of directors, wrote
in the report.

 

"The goal of our review is to improve the service we offer our
visitors," he said. "We can do so by improving our operations during
unusual winter weather to prevent and mitigate the impacts of
disruptions, where possible."

 

"When disruptions do occur, we will do a better job of communicating with the public; we will treat our passengers with a high standard of customer service."

 

Among the recommendations:

 

  • The GTAA should develop and publish "guidelines for responding to
    the needs of passengers during irregular operations," something the
    agency plans to achieve by September.
  • A web page be created to update travellers during disruptions.
  • Boost the airport's Wi-Fi and cellphone service capacity.
  • A Pearson mobile app be created to provide instant updates for travellers.
  • The airport should buy more equipment, proactively bring out
    warming stations to keep crew members warm and increase snow and ice
    removal to give planes better access to gates.

Some improvements have already been made and others could take effect
as early as July, the agency said. It plans to give a progress update
in November.

 

Pearson declared a so-called "ground stop" on Jan. 7 after wind chill
readings hovered around the -40 C mark, causing hundreds of flights to
be cancelled.

 

Thousands of passengers slept at the airport and there were mountains of luggage waiting for pick-up.

 

The GTAA said at the time that the decision was made because of how
the cold was affecting equipment and to minimize time outdoors for
employees.

 

It later apologized for the delays.