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Renos helping to ease airport security wait times

The Grande Prairie Airport is making some headway in tackling long security wait times. Lineups have been up to an hour at peak times since the airport switched to its winter schedule, frustrating travellers and the airport commission.

As a temporary measure, the airport recently removed two glass panels in the security area to extend the tables where people can fill their bins. CEO Brian Grant says it appear to be helping so far.

“About three-quarters of the length of those tables has been expanded now, so people can get ready much earlier and they’re able to see what’s happening much earlier in the process,” he explains. “We’ve been monitoring the wait times in our peak periods since we made those changes and we believe that wait times probably went down by about 25 per cent.”

The next step for the airport is working with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority on getting a second security screening line. Grant says the area was designed with room to add another x-ray machine in the future, with minor renovations.

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“We’re just waiting for them to approve doing that and getting the funding from the government in order to put it in place,” he adds. “[CATSA] is certainly talking positively about getting a second line, so we’re expecting in the next week to 10 days that we’ll hear some final results on what’s going to happen.”

The added wait times have been blamed on CATSA not having enough employees in place during busy times and increased traffic, as well as airlines turning away from Edmonton to Calgary as a hub.

Grant encourages travellers still arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes ahead of their scheduled departure time to make sure they have enough time to get through security. He adds that weather delays can also back up passengers.

The delays have been the 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. Grant has also warned they could get worse when the summer schedule is in effect starting in May.

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