The Airport Council International (ACI) released its preliminary 2004 list of the top 30 airports yesterday (ranked by number of passenger movements). Toronto/Pearson saw a huge increase in traffic, but is still just barely clinging to the list in spot 29 (a bit busier than Philadelphia, but not quite so busy as Seattle).
Given its low ranking, it’s funny that Pearson (a) has so much trouble handling traffic volume, and (b) has such a — dare I say it — messiah complex about its importance. For example, when I flew into Philadelphia International in fall 2002, I just showed up unannounced (aside from my IFR flight plan), I paid no landing or ramp fees, U.S. customs drove around to the FBO to meet me, the parking fees were reasonable (USD 20.00/night, first night free), and I found the pace of ATC and general traffic relaxed and quiet both arriving and departing. In contrast, Toronto requires IFR slot reservations for certain times of day, the airport charges close to CAD 200.00 landing fee for a light single (depending on time of day), and Frank Eigler was billed over CAD 700.00 for leaving his plane at Pearson for 48 hours. I’d like to try Pearson once, just to say I’ve done it, but it’s hard to ignore the strong message that I’m not welcome.
Maybe they’re just too busy.
Clearly both ATC and ground services are tuned to dense large traffic. But nevertheless they are both quite accessible to us little bugsmashers when we really need them, when the weather’s way down. People routinely file CYYZ as an IFR alternate, and for this, no slot reservation is needed.
It is precisely for stories such as yours that I thank heavens I live in the US.
Fred, have you ever tried landing at any of the major Boston airports? They make Toronto/Pearson look like a friendly little grass strip. Fortunately, Norwood, a little out of town, is friendlier.