Written by Jed Bick, Advisor, External Communications, Greater Toronto Airports Authority
Editor’s Note from ACI: In early March 2020, ACI announced the winners of this year’s ASQ Awards. Since then, the impact and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have brought the global airport industry to a standstill. The ASQ Awards recognize those airports that listen and respond to the voice of passengers. As the industry begins to restart and plan for recovery, it will be even more important for airports to listen, understand, and responds to the changing needs and expectations of their customers.
Toronto Pearson is Canada’s largest airport, North America’s most connected international airport, and the fifth-most internationally connected airport in the world. In 2019, Pearson was named the Best Large Airport in North America for the third straight year by ACI. Given the devastating effect of COVID-19 on the aviation industry, the airport has now taken its unrelenting focus on the passenger and applied it to enhance health measures as a means of restoring public confidence in air travel.
In June, Toronto Pearson launched its Healthy Airport commitment, a comprehensive program that outlines the steps the airport and its partners are taking to be ready for the new realities of air travel, and to lead the aviation industry in advancing the future of healthy travel corridors. The announcement includes a strategic partnership with BlueDot, a leader in advanced data analytics and technologies, to predict and monitor infectious disease risks. The Canadian technology company’s world-leading insights platform will power the GTAA’s commitment to preparedness and resilience.
“Toronto Pearson is an international leader in the aviation sector, having set the standard for exceptional passenger service among large North American airports for three years in a row,” said Deborah Flint, President and CEO of the GTAA. “As government restrictions on air travel begin to be lifted and flights increase, Toronto Pearson is ready, and we are intent on exceeding international standards. Everyone who works at Toronto Pearson is dedicated to playing a leadership role in fulfilling the health protection measures and adapting quickly to changes and future standards. We are dedicated each day to providing the pathway for Canadians who are dreaming of the day they can travel again.”
Passengers will experience the airport’s five-point Healthy Airport commitment, which includes the highest standards for cleaning and hygiene, clear communications and the introduction of innovative technology advancements, including touchless check-in, the pilot of a disinfection corridor for airport workers, facility monitoring for congestion, autonomous floor cleaning machines and air quality monitors.
The Healthy Airport announcement and implementation includes the following commitment to passengers and airport workers:
Upon arrival at the terminal, face coverings are required for all passengers and employees in all public areas. Only travellers flying on the same day or employees on duty are permitted to enter the terminals to limit crowding.
The terminal now contains a large air quality monitoring station, which provides accurate, up-to-date information on each terminal’s air quality and flow. Plexiglass barriers are being installed at check in and queues have been extended with floor decals. Selected self-serve kiosks have been turned off to ensure physical distancing. Kiosks and self-serve bag drops have also been updated with touchless technology.
Sanitization is a major focus; baggage carts are sanitized before each use; check-in counters and baggage drops are sanitized regularly, and hand sanitizer stations are located throughout the check-in lobby.
Many of the policies and measures in place in other areas of the airport also apply to security screening, including mandatory face coverings are mandatory for all passengers and airport employees in security screening areas. Physical distancing measures are also in place such as floor decals every two metres and hand sanitization stations. Bins are now cleaned more frequently mandatory gloves and masks are mandatory for Screening Officers.
Face coverings are still required, whether visiting the airport’s amenities or while waiting and boarding at the gate. Passengers eating at food and beverage locations can temporarily remove their masks.
For those restaurants that still offer sit-in dining, tables and chairs are appropriately spaced and decals are in place on the floors to ensure that physical distancing requirements are met at all times. Payment pin pads are disinfected regularly and wherever possible and contactless payment options are available.
Locations such as bathrooms, escalators, moving sidewalks and other high contact areas are cleaned every two hours. Autonomous cleaners move throughout the terminal to keep floors clean and disinfected. Hand sanitization stations are never far away are also conveniently located throughout the area.
For international travellers, an isolation document must be filled out anyone entering the country, regardless of citizenship, is required to provide contact information. To help speed this process, CBSA has developed a secure app called ArriveCAN to speed the process. Plexiglass barriers have been installed in the CBSA area to help limit person-to-person contact.
Floor decals are in place every two metres in the baggage hall and the space is continually monitored for capacity and crowding issues.
Kiosks are cleaned regularly and are spaced appropriately to respect physical distancing measures. Baggage carts are sanitized before each use and other high-contact areas are continuously cleaned.
When exiting the airport, only travellers flying on the same day or employees on duty are allowed in the terminal spaces.
Jed Bick works with internal and external stakeholders to tell the story of Canada’s largest airport by developing integrated communication strategies for external audiences.
The article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of ACI, its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.