The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority says it is up to the territorial government to ask for an additional security line to lessen wait times at the Yellowknife airport.
In an emailed response to MyYellowknifeNow.com, CATSA spokesperson Suzanne Perseo says the airport authority, in this case the GNWT, needs to make a case for the need for an additional line.
“All designated airports in Canada follow the same process for requesting additional screening lines. It is incumbent upon the airport authority to initiate the process by providing CATSA with a ‘business case’ for additional capacity,” Perseo says. CATSA management would then review and determine whether the request is feasible.
MLA for Yellowknife North Cory Vanthuyne brought the issue of long lines at the security checkpoint to the legislative assembly Wednesday. He asked Infrastructure Minister Wally Schumann why despite renovations there is still a ‘bottleneck’ at security.
“After millions of dollars collected in user fees and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on renovations to the security screening area, the key complaint of constituents is that security line wait times are unreasonably long. Why? Because there is still only one security line at the airport.”
Schumann responded that the CATSA Plus airport security program is a federal initiative. “That’s their responsibility, but we are working very closely with them to improve the visitors’ and the travelling public’s experience.”
The minister mentioned improvements such as signage in different languages and instructional videos outside the security area. He added staffing and training at the CATSA system remained a challenge.
“The biggest problem we have out there right now with that system is staffing issues. It’s not the system, it’s not the new configuration that we’ve put into place, it’s the CATSA staffing.”
Travellers need to get used to arriving earlier for flights, he added. “We’re so used to being a small jurisdiction that we can go to the airport and jump on a plane 10 minutes before it goes, but the reality of it is, in the Yellowknife Airport, you have to start looking at going out there 90 minutes or 60 minutes prior to departing.”
For the past five years, Perseo says CATSA has had one screening line in operation at the Yellowknife airport.
Recently, as part of a construction project at the airport, the single security line was reconfigured to improve wait times. Perseo says there was no request by the GNWT for an additional screening line at the time of the construction project.
To put another screening line in at the airport, Perseo says the screening checkpoint would need to be expanded.