Canada to suspend random COVID testing to reduce airport wait times

Band Steve Scherer

OTTAWA, June 10 (Reuters)Canada is suspending random COVID-19 testing at all of its airports for the rest of June to reduce the long wait times travelers have experienced in recent weeks, a government statement said Friday.

Random testing will be paused from Saturday and will resume “offsite” on July 1, according to the statement.

Random testing has been accused by some industry officials of adding to already long wait times at airports. Toronto’s Pearson Airport has had planes stuck at the gates and security lines lasting several hours due to a lack of staff.

The government “recognizes the impact that significant wait times at some Canadian airports are having on travellers,” the statement said, adding that it would continue to “implement solutions to reduce delays as we approach high summer season”.

Reuters previously reported the suspension of testing, citing a government source.

Largest carrier in the country Air Canada AC.TO canceled nearly 10% of flights from Pearson in the first week of June, according to data from Cirium, an aviation analysis firm.

Suzanne Acton-Gervais, acting president of the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), which represents Air Canada and privately held WestJet Airlines, said the move “will improve conditions at Canada’s airports and reduce complexity for The travellers”.

Pearson officials had no immediate comment.

Airlines around the world that have faced a travel crisis during the pandemic are counting on a strong summer. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has hired 865 screening officers since April to help manage a surge in travellers.

Canada’s opposition Conservative Party said Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was slow to act on airport congestion.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool)

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