Half a million passengers faced delays on international flights at Toronto Pearson Airport in May

TORONTO — Nearly half a million passengers were held up after arriving aboard international flights at Toronto’s Pearson airport last month.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority says 490,810 travellers in May, or about half of all arrivals from abroad, faced delays as they were held inside their planes on the tarmac or faced staggered off-loading to ease pressure on overflowing customs areas.

In total, some 2,700 flights arriving from outside the country were delayed at Pearson last month, versus four planes — and a few hundred passengers — in May 2019.

Scenes of endless security and customs queues at large Canadian airports have played out all spring, with peak travel season still weeks away.

Read more: Toronto Pearson Airport again urges feds to halt random COVID testing amid delays

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Hurdles ranging from airport staffing shortages to COVID-19 health measures threaten to cascade into a problem that overmatches efforts to drain clogged terminals.

The federal government has pledged to hire hundreds more security screening officers, with Transport Canada also creating a committee made up of government agencies and industry stakeholders to address bottlenecks at security checkpoints.

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