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MPs on House transport committee call for study into airport delays and flight cancellations

People line up before entering the security at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Friday, August 5, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

OTTAWA - Members of the House of Commons Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Committee are scheduled to meet Monday to discuss a request from members of the committee to launch a study into airport delays and flight cancellations.

The House of Commons is not scheduled to resume until the end of September, but if at least four members of a committee from at least two different political parties call for a meeting, one can be convened. In this case, all six opposition members on the committee — representing the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc Quebecois — called for the meeting.

Flight cancellations and significant delays for travellers, specifically at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, have been ongoing for months. In July, it was ranked the worst airport in the world for flight delays, according to data from the flight tracking site FlightAware, compiled for CNN Travel.

“Throughout this the height of our travel season, the government has refused to listen to advocates, front-line workers and ordinary Canadians to make common-sense improvements to our country’s airports and scrap their continued measures leading to further delays,” said Conservative transport critic and committee vice-chair Melissa Lantsman, in an email to CTVNews.ca on Friday. “There has been no meaningful improvement and our reputation continues to be tarnished globally.”

Lantsman said the committee’s opposition members want Transport Minister Omar Alghabra to explain the reason for the delays in ensuring Canadians are given “the service levels they deserve” when travelling.

The head of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) gave an update Friday on the “incremental progress” in reducing wait times and cancellations.

GTAA President and CEO Deborah Flint said wait times to clear security, customs and collect baggage are decreasing, and the situation is “slowly improving.”

“While there is indeed still a long way to go, these efforts are yielding improvements,” Flint said. She added that while the reduced wait times may be marginal, she said they’re also measurable.

Flint said the number of flights that are on time went from just 35 per cent a few weeks ago, to 44 per cent as of Friday. She also said data from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority shows 82 per cent of passengers are currently being screened in less than 15 minutes.

A press release issued Wednesday on behalf of the ministers of transport, health, public safety, and tourism said the federal government has been meeting regularly with airports and airlines to find solutions, as well as working to hire more staff and make improvements to the highly-criticized ArriveCan app, to address airport delays.

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 Canada joins U.S.-led moon mission 

Canada is joining a U.S.-led project that will see humans return to the moon and set the stage for further exploration to Mars, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday. Known as the Lunar Gateway, the project includes an outpost that will provide living space for astronauts orbiting the moon, a docking station for visiting spacecraft and laboratories for research.

"Canada's historic investment will create good jobs for Canadians, keep our astronaut program running and our aerospace industry strong and growing while opening up a new realm of possibilities for Canadian research and innovation," Trudeau said at the Canadian Space Agency headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Que. The announcement comes amid ongoing turmoil within the Trudeau government over SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau faced questions about the issue during his news conference.