Canadian airports remain chaotic due to tougher security

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS,

Toronto : With more flights to the US than many countries combined, Canadian airports are experiencing severe flight delays because of tougher security introduced after the failed bombing of a US flight on Christmas Day.

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The government has been forced to order the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (equivalent of CRPF in India) to join in passenger searches at major airports to ease the chaos.

But travellers continue to face delays of many hours at the airports, including the worst-hit Toronto airport.

US customs agents who clear passengers at Canadian airports are playing hardball, according to the Canadian Press.

They are sending back passengers with bags and purses deemed too large and are not allowing them to board flights to the US.

The Montreal-based International Air Travel Association (IATA) that represents 230 airlines said Tuesday that the chaos at Canadian airports is unprecedented.

The aviation body whose members account for 93 percent of the global aviation sector said it is keeping a close watch on the air traffic chaos worldwide.

But delays at Canadian airports are among the worst in the world, it said.

Toronto airport tops the list of airports for the worst delays, IATA security director (North America) Ken Dunlap was quoted as saying.

“On a global basis, we have seen some of the worst delays in Canada,” said IATA spokesman Steve Lott in Washington.

He said: “It is really an unmanageable situation that is both frustrating and costly for everybody involved.

“We understand the need for emergency measures immediately following a threat. However the current system really can’t handle the volume of passengers with these temporary measures in place.”

Though the authorities in the US and Canada have not said how long tougher security will remain in force, regular travellers are afraid that new measures are here to stay.

A spokesman for the Air Transport Association of Canada said security measures were dictated by Washington, and Canada “just follows through”.

He warned that if the new security measures stay for a long time, passengers will have to bear these expenses.