The suspension of random COVID-19 testing at customs by Ottawa is a significant step toward clearing jammed terminals, but other measures are required to ease airport bottlenecks, business groups say.
In an interview on Monday, council chief Monette Pasher stated, "The news is really encouraging to us, It's a significant step forward in addressing the delay concerns."
According to the Canadian Airports Council and Greater Toronto Airports Authority, queue times and tarmac delays for arriving flights at large airports improved immediately after the change went into effect on Saturday.
However, there is still a great deal of work to be done, as there are still gate holds, albeit for shorter durations.
Ottawa said on Friday that it would suspend COVID-19 testing of overseas passengers picked at random and that, beginning July 1, obligatory fast testing of unvaccinated arrivals would be conducted off-site.
The airports council and other industry groups are now asking for an end to vaccination requirements for passengers and aviation, security, and customs officials, stating that hundreds of people could return to the workforce if these mandates were eliminated.
The government continues to deny entry to the majority of unvaccinated foreigners and compels unvaccinated Canadians to spend 14 days in quarantine upon their return.
After laying off security personnel during the pandemic, Ottawa announced that the country's airport security agency has hired 865 screening officers since April, and more are on the way as Canada's four largest airports prepare for a 50% increase in traveler numbers within the next few weeks.
As of 1 June, these hubs were processing an average of 56,000 inbound international passengers each day, with more than half of them at Toronto's Pearson airport, where travelers endured lengthy lines and traveler frustration throughout the spring. The airports council predicts the number will reach 80,000 within weeks.
"People can anticipate increased wait times during the summer, but nothing like what we've seen in the previous month. I believe we are overcoming this obstacle," Pasher remarked.
The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable applauded Ottawa's most recent rollback, but remained somewhat pessimistic about its effects.
The roundtable, composed of industry groups, said in a statement that domestically, Canada's travel laws are hurting small businesses and unfairly impacting families wanting to enjoy the summer travel season.
In addition to vaccine requirements, the trade association is demanding that Ottawa remove COVID-19-related questions from the ArriveCan app in order to expedite airport lineups.