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Toronto Pearson International Airport saw passenger volumes rise 135 per cent in the three months ending Sept. 30, as the operator of Canada’s busiest airport rode a tumultuous return to travel.

Toronto Pearson’s operator, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, made a profit of $73-million in the third quarter, reversing a loss of $58-million in the same period a year ago. Revenue rose 72 per cent to $422-million.

The financial results released Thursday underscore the size of the wave of pent-up demand for travel unleashed by the easing of pandemic and related restrictions.

The GTAA said the number of travellers rose by 6.5 million year-over-year to 11.2 million, though it is still below the prepandemic third quarter of 2019, when 14.2 million passengers travelled through Toronto Pearson.

Toronto Pearson, other Canadian airports and airlines were ill-prepared for the travel resurgence of 2022, as passengers faced delays, congestion and lineups due to a shortage of baggage handlers and workers at government contractors that screen passengers.

The delays improved as the summer surge ended, and airport staffing levels have increased.

“Over the course of the summer, Toronto Pearson went from one of the world’s most shut-down major airports to one of its busiest,” said Deborah Flint, the chief executive officer of the GTAA. “The delays and wait times experienced by passengers this summer have decreased dramatically, and we have seen better flow through the airport thanks to increased staffing by carriers and our partners in government and a host of innovations aimed at smoothing processes.”

As of Oct. 1, proof of vaccination and masks are no longer required for air travel or admission to Canada. However, the pandemic is not over, and many Canadian hospitals are seeing a surge in patients admitted for respiratory viruses, underlining the fragility of the recovery.

In a news release, the GTAA said it is unable to predict when demand for air travel will return to prepandemic levels. However, “the pandemic will not have a material impact on the long-term financial sustainability of the airport,” it said.

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