Toronto's Pearson airport sees improvements, wrestles with flight delays

FILE PHOTO: Travellers crowd the departures lounge at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga
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(Reuters) - Canada's busiest airport is seeing less luggage being held-up and fewer arriving passengers being held on planes, but continues to wrestle with delayed flights, an executive said on Friday.

Toronto's Pearson International Airport recorded 44% of flights as being on time last week, compared with 35% of flights on average being on time during the four preceding weeks, according to a press release. Pearson had among the most flight delays in the world, according to FlightAware data.

Deborah Flint, chief executive of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority acknowledged that hitting the 40s is not a number that the airport would strive for.

"But it is certainly better than some of the 25% or sub 20% that we've been seeing particularly in the early part of summer," Flint told reporters.

"Certainly I look forward to the days when we're back above 50 and well into the 70s and 80%," she said of flights completed without delays.

Airport managers particularly in Europe and Canada have been struggling to quickly recruit and process new hires, even as the rebound in air travel from a pandemic-induced slump leads to canceled flights and hours-long lines.

Toronto's Pearson has made international headlines, and garnered criticism on social media as passengers posted pictures of long lines and piles of luggage.

Changes including increased staffing and the ending of random testing for international arrivals at the airport are improving operations, Flint said.

"This is a transitionary period and as the system becomes more stable that performance will continue to improve," she said.

(Reporting By Allison Lampert and Alistair Bell)