Halifax airport authority warns holiday travellers of long lines, labour shortages
Passenger air travel in December continues to climb but has not reached pre-pandemic levels
December 7, 2022, 2:47 pm ASTLast Updated: December 21, 2022, 11:07 am
As the Halifax airport continues to face staffing shortages, passengers are being asked to continue to do their part to prepare for a smooth travel experience.
Halifax Stanfield International Airport has yet to see its numbers of yearly passengers return to pre-pandemic levels. But with the holidays fast approaching, numbers are rising.
“People should anticipate that because there are more people traveling, it is more likely that they may encounter lineups throughout the process,” Tiffany Chase, a spokesperson for the Halifax International Airport Authority, said during a news conference at the airport earlier this week.
Chase said so far in 2022, the airport has seen 80 per cent of the volume of travellers compared to the same time period in 2019. According to her, the holiday season is the second busiest time of year behind the summer.
Many Canadian airports were plagued this past summer with long lineups, delays in departures and arrivals, and lost baggage.
Transport Canada said in a statement in July that, “Airports across the world are feeling the impact. From too many flights, to not enough staff, there is no single reason for these delays.”
“We’re not immune to that labour shortage,” said Chase in an interview on Tuesday. “As an airport authority, we have been working with our partners here at the airport to help promote any jobs that are available as they come up.”
The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) recommends passengers prepare for the pre-boarding process to help lineups move faster. This includes carefully checking carry-on luggage to meet security requirements.
Liquids in carry-ons are limited to under 100 millilitres. Salt, spices and other granular substances are also banned from passing security if measuring over 350 millilitres.
Halifax regional police Const. Susan Conrad says passengers have been known to forget all manner of things in carry-on luggage, from bear mace to movie prop guns. She said passengers “just don’t think about it, because it’s something that they have on their everyday person.”
“What we would recommend, is, of course, just picking that up at your destination.”
Mary Nielsen, a travel consultant at United Travels in Halifax, had more advice for travellers. She said she advises them “to be at the airport for an international flight, a minimum of three hours in advance. For domestic travel, two hours before.”
On Oct. 1, pandemic related restrictions were lifted. Masks, proof of vaccination and social distancing are no longer required at the Halifax airport or on airplanes.
“We still encourage people to wear masks, and you will see some employees and travellers walking through, still masking. We encourage people to do that. [However] it is not required,” said Chase.
Passenger Penny Irving said she had no qualms about pre-boarding or looking forward to her flights ahead.
“As long as all my planes are on time, I am excited.”
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