Tensions rise over passenger delays at airports

When Trevor Lau’s Air Canada flight from Orlando landed at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Monday, he didn’t know he’d be waiting over two hours on the plane.

But due to staffing issues at customs, the flight crew told him they’d only allow passengers with connecting flights to disembark in a timely manner.

“People were getting aggravated and disgruntled, complaining, and they were taking it out on the poor flight attendants,” Lau said.

Finally, after hours passed, passengers were allowed to leave. A flight attendant remarked that the delay wasn’t that bad compared to what they’d experienced recently.

But the ordeal wasn’t completely over — a long line at customs awaited.

Lau’s experience isn’t unusual. International arrivals at Canadian airports are so backed up, people are being kept on planes for over an hour after they land because there isn’t enough space for the long lineups of travellers, says the Canadian Airports Council.

Lau says he doesn’t know who to blame for the delay — but the council does.

It’s calling on the federal government to do away with random tests and public health questions at customs to ease the serious delays passengers face when they arrive in Canada.

The extra steps mean it takes four times longer to process people as they arrive than it did before the pandemic, said the council’s interim president Monette Pasher. That was fine when people weren’t travelling, she said, but now it’s become a serious problem.

“We’re seeing that we clearly cannot have these public health requirements and testing at our borders as we get back to regular travel,” she said.

A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer in Calgary. The interim president of the Canadian Airport Council wants to see the agency end COVID-19 health questions at airport customs checkpoints to help relieve congestion. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

The situation is particularly bad at Pearson, Canada’s largest airport, where passengers on 120 flights were held in their planes Sunday waiting for their turn to get in line for customs.

Sometimes the wait is 20 minutes, while at other times it’s over an hour, Pasher said.

Airports are simply not designed for customs to be such a lengthy process, she said, and the space is not available to accommodate people. The airport is also not the right place for COVID-19 tests, she said, especially since tests are rarely required in the community.

“Getting back to regular travel with these health protocols and testing in place, the two can’t coexist without a significant pressure and strain on our system,” Pasher said.

Government working on delays, minister’s office says

In a statement issued to CBC News, a spokesperson for Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra said the government is trying to address the delays.

“We are pleased that Canadians are excited to get back to travelling and we know there is more work to do as the sector continues its recovery. We will continuing working hard with airports, CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority), and airlines so that the travel industry can bounce back,” the statement reads.

Specifically, the government is hoping more screening personnel will address the delays and has set up a committee to investigate the problem.

“Transport Canada has worked with CATSA to develop a plan to increase the number of screening officers at passenger screening checkpoints,” the statement says.

“Transport Canada also created the Airport Operations Recovery Committee. With participants from the largest airlines and airports, as well as CATSA, the committee is investigating causes and recommending solutions to address airport wait times.”

The statement pushed back on a rumour, posted on Twitter, that the federal government asked airlines to reduce their schedules in response to the congestion.

“We can confirm that our Government has never asked, and will not be asking, airlines to cut back on their flight schedules,” it said.

Public health measures have scaled up and down over the course of the pandemic as waves of the virus have come and gone. Right now, they are the least restrictive they have been in months, with vaccinated travellers being tested only on a random basis.

Still, the requirements are out of step with peer countries, said Conservative transport critic Melissa Lantsman. She said she wants to know why the Canadian government is acting on advice that is different from the advice used by other countries.

“We’re effectively taking the government at their word that they are receiving advice and that they are acting on it, but they haven’t shared any of that with the Canadian public,” she said.

She said the lengthy delays at the airports send a negative message to travellers and she worries about the impact it will have on Canadian tourism as the industry struggles to get on its feet this season after the pandemic lull.

“It tells you to go elsewhere, that we’re not open for business,” she said.

Airlines need to cut back: expert

John Gradek, a lecturer at McGill University’s school of aviation management, said airlines have to account for the passenger volumes airports can handle and make adjustments to their flight schedules.

“Yeah the [COVID] protocols are there, but the protocols have been there for months — it’s not a brand new thing, right?” he said.

Gradek said he sees no indication that the federal government is going to budge on public health measures at airports.

“They’re not going, so therefore the number of passengers that are to be handled at an airport are less than what they were in the fall of 2019,” he said.

Ultimately, Gradek said, he wants to see more cooperation from all parties to fix the delays and congestion.

“Everybody has to work together, and from what I see happening, it’s broken down.”

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Gas prices rise again. How do we cope with that?

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — You’ve seen the signs as you search for an acceptable price per gallon but in the end, you’re reminded that resistance is futile. Gasoline and other fuels do cost more lately.

“It’s been going from $3.60 to $3.80 to $3.90, almost four,” car owner William Carmon said.

It’s noticeably higher than the prices seen as recently as a few weeks ago, and high enough to frustrate people like Carmon who depend on their cars to get around.

“I barely want to go to work,” he said. “I barely even want to go to work, but I’ve got to.”

“My heart goes out to people that have to drive back and forth to work,” said retiree Tom Stuckey. “At any kind of distance, that’s a big chunk out of their paycheck.”

While Stuckey limits his travel as much as he can, he also feels the pinch when it’s time to fill up. He said his pickup truck holds up twenty-six gallons and that lately it takes $100 to fill that tank.

As prices continue to rise, making some adjustments to your usual routine could help you save money. Car travel is just one option for some people.

“I’m gonna have to ride a bus. Ride a bike, or take a Lyft,” Carmon said.

Several buses, municipal and regional, offer alternatives for commuting during specific hours. EVs, or electric vehicles like Teslas or Ford’s Mustang Mach-E can be another option for those who can afford one.

“I drive like my mother drives. I’m like a little old lady, I’m not a teenager anymore. So, I don’t fly up and down the road. I’m very happy driving safely and slowly,” Stuckey said.

That’s a smart tactic if you have the discipline to maintain lower speeds. The potential difference in the amount you budget for buying gas could accumulate over time.

Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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Flights between Europe and Asia rise despite Russia airspace ban

Airline capacity between western Europe and Asia has risen in the past two months despite many flights having to be rerouted to avoid Russian airspace.

EU and UK carriers have been banned from flying through Russia since the early days of the conflict, which started on 24 February, and has led to significantly longer flights on some routes between Europe and Asia.

Research from aviation data firm OAG found that there were seven per cent more scheduled airline seats between Europe and Asia in mid-April compared with the final week of February in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion.

OAG said some of this increase in capacity was due to the start of airlines’ summer schedules, as well as the reopening of Singapore to international travellers – British Airways, for example, has increased capacity between London Heathrow and Singapore by 75 per cent over this period.

Finnair has clearly been the most affected European airline with the Russian airspace ban adding three-and-a-half hours to its flights from Helsinki to Tokyo and Shanghai. Flights from Finland to South Korea have also been extended by two hours and 45 minutes.

Western European airlines are seeing much smaller increases in flight times to destinations in south and south-east Asia, such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangkok and Singapore, as a result of rerouting around Russian airspace.

“The British Airways flight, for instance, from Heathrow to Singapore has seen the scheduled time increase by 25 minutes, while the Air France flight to Delhi has had 30 minutes added,” said OAG.

“Overall, Finnair has reduced capacity between western Europe and Asia by 23 per cent, Air France by 5 per cent, and British Airways by 4 per cent, while Lufthansa has increased airline capacity by 46 per cent but this is largely the result of large increases between Germany and India.”

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AHLA: U.S. Hotels’ Corp. Travel Revenue on Rise, Short of ’19

U.S. hotels’ 2022 business travel revenue is on track to receiver to about 23 percent below 2019 levels, according to a new report by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Kalibri Labs, released this week. That recovery, in line with other recent projections, still would represent a $20 billion drop in business travel revenue. 

Kalibri Labs 2022 projected hotel business travel revenue for each U.S. state and forecasts it to increase from 2019 levels in five—Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada and South Dakota. On the whole, though, the projected $69 billion in 2022 U.S. hotel business travel revenue remains short of the $89.6 billion recorded in 2019.

“With corporate travel policies still in flux, leisure travel will continue to recover faster in 2022, driving the hotel demand landscape,” according to the report, which added that business travel “is not expected to fully recover until 2024.”

AHLA president and CEO Chip Roy in a statement pointed to “dwindling Covid-19 case counts” and relaxed U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for “a sense of optimism for reigniting travel,” adding that “this report underscores how tough it will be for many hotels and hotel employees to recover from years of lost revenue.”

Of the 50 U.S. cities analyzed, Kalibri projected 2022 business travel hotel revenue to decline by at least 50 percent from 2019 levels in four: San Francisco, New York, Washington, D.C. and San Jose. Three are projected to show an increase: San Bernardino, Calif., Knoxville, Tenn., and Las Vegas, where the forecast 17.7 percent increase far outpaces any other city.

In recent weeks, suppliers including Delta Air LinesAmerican Express Global Business Travel and TripActions have cited rapidly increasing business travel volume since roughly mid-February.

Hoteliers Prep for Business Return

Meanwhile, a few hoteliers at Cvent’s Connect conference in Las Vegas last week agreed that business travel demand is accelerating as pandemic restrictions wane. 

“We’re finally seeing occupancies pick up very strongly and a lot of interest in meetings,” said Sonesta International Hotels Corp. CEO John Murray, who assumed that position April 1.

“We’ve seen business travel come back in a way that’s very encouraging,” said Aimbridge Hospitality president and CEO Michael Deitemeyer. Aimbridge is the third-largest manager of hotels in the world, according to Deitemeyer, who added, “Barring a recession and other economic issues, we’re anticipating are projecting a very strong fourth quarter.”

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Yields rise, travel mask mandates dropped, Netflix earnings: LIVE UPDATES

Netflix Earnings After the Bell

Netflix will kickoff large cap tech earnings after the bell with subscribers in the spotlight.

The company forecasted 2.5M paid subscribers in 1Q lifting worldwide numbers to nearly 225 million. In 4Q, the streaming giant was hit with a post pandemic slowdown as new additions cooled.

Nat gas prices soar

Symbol Price Change %Change
UNG $27.13 +1.53 +5.98%

The U.S., the world’s largest producer of natural gas, is now seeing its domestic supply fall to a three-year low and is 18% below the average for this time of year.

Hence, prices are spiking near $7.30 – highest since 2008.

Developing Story

10-year yield hits 2018 high

Symbol Price Change %Change
IEF $103.14 -0.30 -0.29%

The 10-yr Treasury yield topped 2.9% — the highest level since December of 2018.

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COVID-19 cases rise with spring break travel

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s spring break for many students across the country, some with travel plans, as cases of COVID-19 are starting to trend back up.

According to a national survey, more than half of Americans are planning a trip this spring. 37% are planning to travel during spring break, that’s an increase from last year. Meanwhile, the latest DPH data indicates COVID cases are steadily increasing, today at just over 1200. Compared to the same time last month at 625. 22News spoke with people who plan to travel for spring break.

“My plans are to come home and visit my family here, this year my family and I are able to go out more. Last year when I came back I took a covid test before I came, and then I pretty much stayed in the house with them and this year we can now go do stuff which is fun,” said Chloe Larouche of Northampton.

The same data also indicates that both hospitalizations and deaths are decreasing.

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