When COVID-19 restrictions eased domestically and abroad in May, the entirety of the GTA made travel plans. Little did they know that they were signing up for lost baggage, hours spent in customs and passport control, and a date with -- quite possibly -- the world's worst airport.
Although anecdotes to this effect have been copious, data compiled by FlightAware for CNN Travel has officially confirmed it. According to their findings, Toronto has had the most flight delays of any airport in the world, with 52.5% of scheduled flights delayed between May 26 and July 19.
And misery loves company. Here is the full list of world airports with the worst delays.
- Toronto Pearson International Airport (Canada): 52.5%
- Frankfurt Airport (Germany): 45.4%
- Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (France): 43.2%
- Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Netherlands): 41.5%
- London Gatwick Airport (United Kingdom): 41.1%
- Heathrow Airport (United Kingdom): 40.5%
- Munich Airport (Germany): 40.4%
- Athens International Airport (Greece): 37.9%
- Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (Australia): 34.2%
- Orlando International Airport (United States): 33.4%
On the cancellation front, Pearson isn't technically the worst, but it is top four, with 6.5% of its scheduled flights cancelled so far this summer.
- Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport (China): 7.9%
- Newark Liberty International Airport (US): 7.4%
- LaGuardia Airport (US): 7%
- Toronto Pearson International Airport (Canada): 6.5%
- Soekarno--Hatta International Airport (Indonesia): 6.2%
- Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (Australia): 5.9%
- Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (China): 5.2%
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (US): 5%
- Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport (China): 4.6%
- Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Netherlands): 3.9%
This is not a new narrative. In May, around 2,700 international flights were delayed at Pearson, affecting 490,810 disgruntled travellers. That's compared to four planes in May 2019, before COVID-19 travel restrictions were in effect.
One reason for delays and cancellations is clear: people were itching to travel throughout the pandemic, and now that they can, airports and airlines aren't prepared for the pent-up demand, citing staffing issues.
But you could also argue that there are some systemic issues that need to be addressed.
Pearson is the busiest airport in Canada, but it only has two terminals to serve the tens of thousands of people who cycle through every day. Comparatively, Vancouver International Airport, the second busiest airport in Canada, has three terminals.
Cancellations and delays might be the tip of the much more problematic iceberg. Moreover, it seems as if these issues are going to get worse before they get better. On Tuesday, mandatory COVID-19 testing was reintroduced at Pearson, which will no doubt exacerbate delays and wait times.
So, if you're planning to hop on a flight at YYZ, know that there's a better than 50% chance it won't be taking off on time.