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Chow raps Pearson over weather-related flight delays, cancellations


Federal NDP transport critic Olivia Chow wasn’t too happy with the travel chaos at Pearson International Airport on Tuesday.

The extreme cold played havoc with aircraft equipment and posed safety issues for employees, forcing Pearson operator, the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA), to put a so-called ground freeze on all North American arrivals at the airport until 10 a.m.

About 32 per cent or 256 flights of 784 departing flights were cancelled, according to the GTAA. And another 306 of 773 arriving flights were also cancelled.

Chow tweeted, “Surely the Greater Toronto Airport Authority saw the weather forecast and have a plan? This performance is not acceptable. @lraitt”

In a tweet, federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt responded, “@oliviachow best to follow @TorontoPearson for updates on ground stop. I know you agree that worker health and safety is top priority.”

Chow concurred with Raitt but added “@TorontoPearson needs better communications.”

She then wondered how Winnipeg airport manages flights since it faces average winter temperatures of -23 C and a “flight from Thunder Bay landed there w no problem.”

GTAA spokesman Scott Armstrong declined to comment on the matter saying the authority responded to Chow in a tweet. He said “it’s been decades” since the airport, which gets about 96,000 passengers a day, has had to issue a ground freeze.

How do you think Pearson fared with the extreme climate conditions? Share your thoughts in the comments.