Porter Airlines seeks to extend island airport runway for jets

As had been widely rumoured, Porter Airlines confirmed that it is the unnamed Bombardier customer who will purchase up to thirty CS100 aircraft from the aircraft maker. The conditional purchase order is for twelve of the aircraft, with an option for eighteen more. Delivery of the first CS100 would occur in 2016. There is a further purchase agreement for six Q400 NextGen aircraft.

The total purchase value could reach $2.29 billion US, if all options and purchase rights are exercised.

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The runway at Billy Bishop airport needs to be extended by about 320 metres to accommodate the Bombardier CS100 jets that Porter Airlines wants to operate there.

Likely to be a major stumbling block for Porter’s plans is its need to pursue an amendment to the tripartite agreement under which the Billy Bishop airport on the Toronto Islands operates. That agreement does not allow for jets. For Porter to fly CS100 jets from the island airport, it would need to lengthen the runway, which is currently several hundred metres too short for the jets to land on and take off from. Porter has called the extension of the runway “modest.” The three parties concerned are the City of Toronto, the Toronto Port Authority, and the Government of Canada.

Jets were originally banned at the island airport because when the agreement was signed, in 1983, jets were noisier and dirtier than the CS100 jets are today, according to Porter.

“Thirty years ago, when the Tripartite Agreement came into effect, jets were noisy and not particularly environmentally friendly,” said Porter president Robert Deluce. “We chose the Bombardier CSeries aircraft because they are the world’s quietest commercial jets in production. The CS100 jetliner is ideal for operation at downtown urban airports, is comparably quiet to our existing Q400 aircraft fleet, uses less fuel per seat than many modern compact cars, and creates up to 50 per cent lower emissions than similar aircraft.”

The mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, as well as his brother Doug Ford, supports the expansion of the airport, though the city councilor who represents the ward where it is located, Adam Vaughan, is opposed. The Toronto Star also reported that the head of the TTC, Karen Stintz, supports the airport and Porter Airlines, but does not support extending the airport runways or having jets land there.

The Toronto Port Authority issued a statement saying that it would not consider any “change of use” of the airport until Toronto city council determines how it wants to proceed in the matter.

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