MIAMI – It’s no secret that demand for travel everywhere has seen a decline since the COVID-19 outbreak in March. Toronto Pearson (YYZ) is attempting to reverse that trend; on Wednesday, it released its ‘Healthy Airport’ program that outlines what the airport and its partners are doing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during travel.

Toronto Pearson says it is committed to making passenger and employee health its top priority, so cleaning and sanitizing at Toronto Pearson is a continuous process.

There are 200 cleaning staff, as well as a number of specialists that are involved in the work to keep the airport safe and hygienic for all passengers and airport workers.

COVID Response in Photos

The action starts before passengers even arrive at the terminal. Customers choosing to arrive by authorized airport limousine can be assured that each car is fully wiped down by the driver after each use.

A licensed Toronto Pearson driver cleans the seats after dropping off a passenger.

Every two hours, enhanced cleaning of escalators, moving walkways, handrails, stairways, baggage carts, kiosks and bathrooms is carried out.

The cleaning staff use disinfectants including Tersano, Oxivir, Ultra-Lyte, and Microbial/Probiotic that are recommended by Health Canada and contracted hygiene agencies.

The washrooms are sprayed with powerful disinfectants.

Toronto Pearson has six new automated floor cleaners that are deployed throughout the airport. They certainly have their work cut out for them since combined, the two terminals at YYZ are over 5.6 Million Square Feet. The automated floor cleaning will help re-direct staff towards the “high-touch” areas.

A robotic floor cleaning machine drives through Terminal 1.

From the moment passengers arrive at YYZ, they can be confident that they’re entering a sterile environment. The airport has effectively been re-planned to mitigate bottlenecks at points of high congestion. Some doors have been re-labelled “Exit Only,” while others only cater departures to certain destinations.

Big signs indicate this door is only for exiting the terminal, while smaller ones direct passengers to Domestic, Transborder and International areas.

Even the baggage carts are regularly fogged and treated with disinfectant so passengers can use carts without worry. Carts, like other ‘high-touch areas,’ are treated every two hours regardless if they have been used or not.

This worker wipes down each cart individually.

Passengers traveling through Toronto Pearson are required to wear a mask at all times unless they are under the age of two. Additionally, travelers are unable to remove a face covering without assistance, or when dining at food and beverage locations.

A passenger walks through the airport with a mask and face shield to guard against COVID.

Further, the check-in area is very safe, besides the sanitization of self-check-in kiosks, there are lots of hand-sanitizing stations. Also, Air Canada (AC) has already installed a touch-less baggage drop that further limits the risk of contracting COVID-19 at the airport.

Those who check-in with an agent are also protected with transparent barriers set up at all active counters.

A touch-less ‘Purell’ hand sanitizing station near Air Canada’s check-in.

Toronto Pearson is also trialing a disinfection corridor. This system mists passengers with a fresh-smelling, non-toxic saltwater solution (sodium chloride) that will disinfect clothing, luggage, and more.

It is available in the baggage hall to passengers picking up their luggage at the end of their trip. Passengers can choose to use the feature, as it offers an added layer of protection, but it is not a requirement.

Left: Transparent Barriers at Check-In Counters. Right: A passenger is sprayed down in the disinfection corridor.

The airside seating areas are also limited to maintain social distancing. This provides comfort to all passengers, including those who have potential underlying health conditions and need to keep their distance.

Signage marks seats that are required to be left empty.

Technological health safety advancements

Toronto Pearson also announced a partnership with BlueDot, a leader in advanced data analytics and technologies to predict and monitor infectious disease risks.

This partnership will promote innovative technology advancements, including touchless check-in, a disinfection corridor for airport workers, facility monitoring for congestion, autonomous floor cleaning machines, and air quality monitors.

Also, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) is working with Toronto Pearson and Wipro to conduct a trial on wearable contact tracing and distancing technology for airport workers.

Photo: BriYYZ.

Comments from Wipro

Sahadev Singh, Vice President & Global Head, Wipro commented: “The global airport industry is facing unprecedented challenges because of COVID-19. As Toronto Pearson airport is preparing for the ‘new normal’, Wipro, through our deep domain expertise and experience in implementing digital innovations and technologies, is assisting the airport in bringing the Healthy Airport concept to life. This is enabled through a bouquet of contactless solutions and digital technologies for enhancing the passengers’ safety and experience. Working together with the airport stakeholders we strive to safeguard the health and safety of passengers and airport staff.”  

As Canada slowly begins it’s ‘re-opening’ phase, airport management will have to plan for how best to handle larger volumes of people.

Photo: BriYYZ.

Comments from the YYZ Worker’s Council

Steven Tufts, Spokesperson, Toronto Airport Workers’ Council says, “Airport workers want to see the return of travel. The future of our airport community will be shaped by our collective response to this unprecedented crisis. The Toronto Airport Workers’ Council has worked closely with the GTAA to develop and re-invest in industry-leading health and safety standards. We remain committed to making passenger and workers’ health our top priority while ensuring these changes benefit all who fly through and work at our Airport. We look forward to welcoming travelers back into Toronto Pearson, a model for healthy airports everywhere.”

British Airways’ first long haul 787 flight arrives into YYZ.

For a safe return to air travel

Toronto Pearson says it is committed to making passenger and employee health their top priority.  Its measures are designed to be increased as passenger traffic returns.

While it looks like a long road ahead for airports and airlines, as developments with COVID continue to shape our daily lives, the aviation industry as a whole, and Toronto Pearson, will try to stay ahead and ensure they’re prepared for anything.