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Air Canada opposes Porter Airlines’ plans to bring jets to Toronto’s downtown Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport

Porter DHC-8-400 at Billy Bishop with Toronto city skyline (Porter)(LR)

Porter Airlines (Toronto-Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport) wants to bring Canadian-built Bombardier CS100 jets to its downtown airport home (above). The regional carrier has been pushing politically for the Toronto City Council to vote yes on a city staff report on allowing jets at the small downtown noise-sensitive airport.

Toronto City Council indicated at their meeting that there was insufficient information to decide on the issue and required acceptance of caps on expansion as a condition of moving forward with the negotiations. The Toronto Port Authority refused to agree to caps, and, as a result, there are no negotiations taking place.

The Port Authority is proceeding unilaterally to conduct some additional studies, and they will not be completed until late fall, at the earliest.

There is also an expected federal election in October which will probably also decide the issue.

Here is Porter Airlines’ proposed plan:

Porter logo

Porter Airlines’ Plan:

Porter Airlines, in consultation with independent aviation consultants, has developed a runway proposal with the objective of designing a runway that does not change the enjoyment of Lake Ontario by Torontonians, including the boating community.

The proposed extension of up to 200 meters into the water at each end of the main runway meets the city’s request that the runway have no material impact on the current Marine Exclusion Zone (MEZ) or on the western shipping channel. Porter has worked closely with stakeholders and our airport consultant, LPS Avia Consulting, to ensure this point.

Regardless of whether Porter’s runway request is approved, Transport Canada will likely require runway extensions into the water for new Runway End Safety Area (RESA) enhancements. These potential extensions have been included in Porter’s proposal.


Under the Tripartite Agreement that governs Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, jet aircraft are prohibited from operating at the airport. This regulation was established 30 years ago to prevent noisy planes from landing on the waterfront.

Since then, there have been significant advancements in jet aircraft technology, resulting in much quieter jets. The CS100 is comparably quiet to the Q400 turboprops Porter currently flies.

Only aircraft that meet very strict noise limits – the strictest in the world – can fly from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Porter is asking that the ban on jets be lifted without any change to the airport’s noise restrictions.

Experts say that the CS100 will almost certainly meet the noise restrictions. If it doesn’t, Porter will not purchase the aircraft.

If extended, Porter Airlines would add the CS100s (it has 12 on conditional order but it is still under development) and proposes to operate on the following possible routes:

Porter CS100 Proposed Routes

Read more about Porter Airlines’ plans: CLICK HERE

Meanwhile Air Canada (Montreal), not surprisingly, is opposed to any jets at Billy Bishop and has issued this statement:

Air Canada logo-1

On March 31, at a public consultation for the Master Plan for the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport by the Toronto Port Authority (also known as Ports Toronto), the following became clear:

The current Ports Toronto Master Planning exercise is restricted to one option – promoting an extension of the runway at both ends and removing the restrictions on jet aircraft to accommodate the stated business plan and objectives of Porter Airlines, despite opposition from the community and other carriers;

No consideration appears to have been given to expanding turboprop operations at the airport (the preferred approach of Air Canada) – the effort remains focused on the interests of Porter Airlines as opposed to being a balanced review of other options for growth;

Ports Toronto stated that it envisioned slot growth at the airport going from the current 202 to only 242 daily slots, which would allow for immaterial incremental slots for Air Canada and new entrants, if any; and

Ports Toronto stated that it envisioned that if jets were approved, that a number of these slots would be sought by private jet operators – further reducing the number of slots available to commercial carriers such as Air Canada.

“Air Canada’s position on this matter is crystal clear,” stated Derek Vanstone, Air Canada’s Vice President, Corporate Strategy, Government and Industry Affairs:

No Jets

“We do not support jets at Billy Bishop – we prefer to see a growing downtown airport focused on short haul passengers using modern turboprop aircraft, which would be more consistent with the spirit and intent of the original tripartite agreement at Billy Bishop. Port Toronto’s focus on jets is not defensible as Billy Bishop can certainly prosper and grow as a turboprop airport, serving communities within the two hour range that can be accomplished with Toronto-assembled Bombardier Q400 aircraft.”

Access to Slots

“We want fair and appropriate access to slots for Air Canada and other carriers to encourage real competition at Billy Bishop, similar to the situation that we find at other airports across the country where Porter has the ability to commence jet service at any time. Currently, Porter Airlines has been awarded over 85% of the slots and we are unable to serve more than one market, Montreal, despite huge demand from our customers for Ottawa, New York / Newark and other short haul markets. Moreover, if the slot growth at the airport was capped as proposed, and even if Air Canada was awarded all of these outstanding slots, it would be insufficient to allow us to commence even the most basic level of service to these new destinations. Indeed, slot caps of the sort being advanced by Ports Toronto can only benefit Porter and enhance its existing dominant position.”

Terminal Rates and Charges

“We want a terminal rates and charges methodology that is significantly lower at this facility, more in keeping with rates and charges at other airports in Canada and the United States. Our concerns have only been heightened by the infrastructure spending being considered in the context of the Master Plan. We are currently reviewing our options in this regard, as previously stated.”

“There is a tremendous opportunity for growth at this airport which is being completely ignored by the Ports Toronto management,” noted Vanstone who continued to state that “this focus on the interests of a single stakeholder is simply irresponsible when you consider that Ports Toronto is an agency of the federal government who has a mandate to operate this public asset in the public interest.”

All images above by Porter Airlines.

Porter Airlines aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

Air Canada aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

Porter Airlines to announce expansion plans today

Porter Airlines (Toronto-Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport) is expected to make a major announcement today on expansion. There is some speculation in the media the announcement will include an order for up to 30 Bombardier CSeries jetliners. The Wall Street Journal reported Porter Airlines has signed a letter of intent (LOI) for 12 CSeries 100 planes, seating 100 to 125 passengers, with options to buy another 18. If the carrier plans to operate jets from the downtown airport it is likely to cause an uphill battle over noise and a longer runway. The downtown airport has a long history of being opposed by some neighborhood groups. This CSeries jetliner would need a longer runway at Bishop. Porter may decide to use the new aircraft on other routes.

Read the full report from The Toronto Star: CLICK HERE

Porter Billy Bishop Airport (Porter)(LR)

Image: Porter Airlines.

According to the airline, “Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, is located on an island in Toronto Harbour, just offshore of the city’s downtown business and tourism districts. The airport is connected to the mainland by modern ferries carrying passengers across a modest 121 metre (400 ft) gap, often noted as the world’s shortest scheduled ferry run. As Porter’s main operating base, Toronto City Airport provides unrivalled urban accessibility; whether you’re on a quick same-day business trip or escaping for a weekend.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Centre Airport, formerly known as Toronto City Centre Airport or the Toronto Island Airport, is operated by the Toronto Port Authority. The airport opened to flights in 1939.”

Top Copyright Photo: Gilbert Hechema. Porter currently operates the quiet DHC-8-402 (Q400) turboprop. DHC-8-402 (Q400) C-GLQR (msn 4278) arrives at Montreal (Trudeau) on a flight from Toronto.

Porter Airlines: AG Slide Show

Porter FAs

All other images: Porter Airlines.

Porter Owl (Porter)(LR)

Porter Q400 and Toronto