After months of security delays, the Grande Prairie Airport will be getting a second screening line. Airport Commission CEO Brian Grant says they signed an agreement with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Tuesday that will let them use a second Pre-Board Screening line at busier times.
“This is certainly what we were hoping for. Both parties understood that it would only be used when were are in our peak periods to keep the queue lines short and try to stay within the 15 minute line time.”
The local airport has struggled with security line times of up to 90 minutes since the winter schedule began in October 2017. More flights are departing around the same time, and Grant has also blamed CATSA for not having enough staff on to handle the influx.
He says the air authority is now hiring to get new employees trained in time. It’s expected construction will start within 10 days, with the new equipment put into operation by the middle to the end of June.
“The new layout actually will expand the size of the area where the passengers do their unloading of their baggage and carry-on, and then there will be two lines,” Grant explains. “One line will be open all the time and then the second one will open up as the wait times get higher and when the peak periods for all the aircraft on the ground occur.”
The exact cost of the project has not yet been confirmed, but the airport is expecting to pay an extra $50,000 above what CATSA would normally cover to speed up the process. CATSA typically covers the cost of operations and the equipment, and airports can apply to have renovation costs reimbursed.
“We’ve decided to put some money forward to speed it up and not have to go through that process,” says Grant. “We knew that our customer service levels were not where they should be with the air carriers, the airport itself, and even CATSA. Everybody recognized something needed to be done.”
New x-ray technology is also coming for checked bags some time this summer, which should speed up that process as well. Earlier this year, the airport removed two glass panels in the security area to extend the tables where people can fill their bins as a temporary measure to improve wait times.