Responding to developments from a public consultation for the Master Plan for the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport by the Toronto Port Authority, Air Canada has reiterated its position against allowing jets at the city airport and calls continuing developments irresponsible.
“Air Canada’s position on this matter is crystal clear,” said Derek Vanstone, Air Canada’s vice-president, Corporate Strategy, Government and Industry Affairs. “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.”
Air Canada officials say it appears no consideration is being given to expanding turboprop operations at the airport, with efforts remaining focused on the interests of Porter Airlines as opposed to being a balanced review of other options for growth.
“There is a tremendous opportunity for growth at this airport which is being completely ignored by the Ports Toronto management. 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,” said Vanstone.
Concerns regarding slot growth at the airport have also been expressed.
“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,” said Vanstone. “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.”