The temporary shutdown of Canada’s largest airport as a result of a deep freeze last week, which stranded thousands of travellers, has led to an apology from the board members of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority who promise travellers they will do better in future.
Incredibly cold temperatures reaching below – 25 C last week brought Toronto's Pearson International Airport to a halt as arrivals of North American flights were grounded at least 11 hours.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled after safety concerns were raised because of equipment problems caused by the cold, leaving passengers stuck on planes, a backlog of traffic and many people sleeping on the airport floor.
The chaos at the airport mixed with a lack of communication from the GTAA led to calls to change the governance within the authority.
The chair of the GTAA's board of directors, Vijay Kanwar, said Wednesday, in a news release that steps would be taken to make sure disruptions like those last week are thoroughly reviewed in order to prevent them from happening again.
Kanwar said an ad hoc committee will thoroughly examine what happened and share its findings with the public within 90 days.
"We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience passengers have experienced" Kanwar stated. "The findings of the ad hoc committee will help ensure that when faced with extreme weather conditions in the future, we can, and will, do better."
'Better next time'
Kanwar said that the decision to ground all flights was "carefully considered" in regards to the safety of their passengers and employees but added that management will be examining that decisions more closely and reviewing winter operations at the airport for the future.
On Jan. 10, GTAA CEO Howard Eng apologized to passengers, saying that airport officials did a poor job when faced with the shutdown.
"I think we dropped the ball and we'll fix it," Eng said on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "I apologize to all the passengers that were affected and the frustration they encountered.”
When Eng was asked why he didn't speak publicly about the crisis until two days after it happened, he said his primary focus was to "stabilize" the situation at the airport.
"We will revamp our communication procedure and we'll do better next time," he said.