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Airport Commission frustrated by continued security delays

Long security wait times continue to plague the Grande Prairie Airport. Commission CEO Brian Grant says the situation hasn’t improved since the airport switched over to its winter flight schedule at the end of October.

“We have a peak in the morning and a peak in the afternoon where we’re seeing security lineup times of about 50 to 60 minutes at the top end. It’s pretty frustrating and people are getting really quite tired of the long lineups that they have to go through to use their community airport.”

The delays seem to be longest between 7 and 8:30 a.m. for flights between 8 and 10 a.m. and between 5 and 7:30 p.m. for flights after 6 p.m. They could also get worse when the summer schedule is in effect starting in May.

Grant has partly blamed the issue on the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority for not having enough employees in place to handle security screenings during busy periods. Traffic also increased 9.5 per cent from February 2017 to February 2018.

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“We have been in discussions with CATSA and the indications we get back is that the funding is the issue and that the funding comes from the federal government,” he says. “We were hopeful that maybe the federal government’s latest budget would address some of the shortfalls and the pressure points, but it hasn’t.”

In the meantime, Grant says the Grande Prairie Airport Commission will be lobbying Grande Prairie – Mackenzie MP Chris Warkentin to take the issue to parliament, as well as helping and putting more pressure on CATSA to find the resources needed. It has also teamed up with Air Canada and WestJet to increase lobbying efforts.

“We’re stepping things up considerably just to make sure everybody knows the situation is still very concerning,” Grant explains.

Grant encourages members of the public fed up with the extra long wait times to reach out to CATSA and Warkentin with their concerns. He hopes they’ll also understand that airport staff aren’t necessarily to blame, and be patient with them.

“The airport is an infrastructure provider; we maintain the infrastructure but the service levels for a number of things that a passenger goes through, including the security screening and the airline experience, is not within the airport’s control.”

Passengers are encouraged to show up at least 30 minutes earlier than typically recommended for their flight.

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