Porter Airlines plan was to expand Billy Bishop Airport by extending the runway into Lake Ontario. By doing so it could then fly Bombardier CS 100 Jets out of the airport and reach destinations like Las Vegas, Vancouver, Miami, Calgary and LA to name a few. Although the CS 100 series has suffered from a number of delays aircraft are due next year and it has the potential to be one of the quietest and fuel efficient planes on the market.
This is why it is disappointing not only to me but for Windsor as well that the Federal Minister has ruled out the Toronto Island expansion. The tri-party agreement that the Minister mentioned is signed by the City of Toronto, Province of Ontario and the Federal Government and is the governing agreement for Billy Bishop Airport. The airport is operated as a partnership, with various levels of government involved in different operations and only through changing this three party agreement could the expansion go forward.. Although Toronto City Council has shown a willing to explore (putting forward a request for design and environmental impact assessment) the expansion, the unwillingness of the Federal government is likely grounded in politics not economics with condo owners in Downtown Toronto being some of the most vocal against the airport expansion.
The ripple effects of this decision will be broad reaching. Not only will 18 jets conditionally ordered by Porter likely be cancelled, costing Bombardier hundreds of millions of dollars, but the badly needed increased competition in the Canadian airline market has been stiffed. The ability to fly, Windsor to Toronto Island to Vegas, or Miami or Vancouver would drive down prices out of Pearson, making it cheaper for Windsorites to go where they want to go.
Just last week Windsor heard from Air Canada’s Regional VP that due to high airport taxes and fees it is cheaper to fly from the US and limiting options to travelers. If government and airport authorities aren’t willing to lower those fees, then increasing competition seems to be the only way to lower prices for travelers.
Porter’s website states the expansion of Toronto island would not only result in the hiring of a 1,000 new staff but another 1,000 spin off jobs outside of their company and Bill Bishop Airport. Some of these jobs would land in Windsor, with more flight options from YQG to Toronto Island it would not only mean more daily flights requiring more staff at the airport but also create the potential for more aircraft maintenance being handled in the city. It would also force Air Canada and West Jet to respond and enhance local service, bringing better service to Windsorites and greater opportunities to connect to the world.
It’s a shame that it won’t be happening.