NAV CANADA launches new online account to track delays at major airports

Jul 31, 2023

Photo/YVR

The move comes as Nav Canada faces criticism over a shortage of air traffic controllers

Nav Canada, the not-for-profit corporation that oversees Canada’s air traffic controllers, has launched a new social media account to track and publicize the causes of delays at four major Canadian airports. The account has been active on the X platform (formerly known as Twitter) since Friday. A shortage of air traffic controllers is being blamed for some flight delays at airports.

“Nav Canada knows that whatever the cause, delays are frustrating for travellers,” the corporation said in a media statement. “This is why we are implementing a new communication protocol … to ensure air passengers have access to accurate and timely information.”

Nav Canada says it will use the account to release information related to delays at the Vancouver International Airport, the Calgary International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport and the Montréal-Trudeau International Airport. The account recently reported delays at the Montreal airport due to weather.

“It’s a positive move in that it’s an attempt by Nav Canada to be more transparent,” said Duncan Dee, aviation industry consultant and former chief operating officer at Air Canada. “We’ve seen a disproportionate number of air traffic control delays and so what I think Nav Canada is trying to do is provide greater clarity for the reasons for those delays.”

Air traffic control delays can be caused by a number of factors, including inclement weather, construction at airports and the operational capacity of airlines and airports. Earlier this summer, Nav Canada admitted some delays are being caused by a shortage of air traffic controllers.

“We do certainly acknowledge the fact that we have had some staffing-related challenges,” Marie-Pier Berman, Nav Canada’s vice-president and chief of operations, said two weeks ago.

Nav Canada said it is training more than 400 additional employees and is working to recruit even more. Other countries, including the United States, are also dealing with a labour shortage.

Delays abound

But recent figures released by an aviation data firm show Canada’s two biggest airlines are reporting far more delays this summer compared to American airlines. Only half of Air Canada’s flights were on time between June 19 and July 16, and 64 per cent of Westjet’s flights were late, according to statistics from Cirium. Last summer was a difficult travelling season for Canadian air passengers for a variety of reasons, including staff shortages in the aviation industry and an increase in demand.

(Source: CBC News, Kate McKenna with files from The Canadian Press)

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