Should the Island Airport be Extended?

The City is now in the process of deciding on whether or not is should support the extension of the runway at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, on a request by Porter Airlines.

First, a brief history: the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (‘ the airport’) opened in 1939 as the Port George VI Island Airport, in honour of the reigning King who visited Canada that year.  The airport was used by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNAF) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as a training centre during World War II.  The airport was renamed in 1994 as the Toronto City Centre Airport, and saw Air Canada subsidiary Jazz operate regional service out of the airport.  Porter Airlines began operating from airport in 2006.

Porter Airlines offers flights to: Boston, Massachusetts; Burlington, Vermont; Chicago, Illinois; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Montreal, Quebec; Mont Tremblant, Quebec; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Newark, New Jersey; Ottawa, Ontario; Quebec City, Quebec; St. John’s, Newfoundland; Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario; Sudbury, Ontario; Timmins, Ontario; Thunder Bay, Ontario; Washington, D.C.; and Windsor, Ontario.

Porter Airlines offers a regional service at the moment, however in April 2013 the airline decided that it wanted to operate to Western Canada, California, and Florida.  As such the airline ordered 12 CS100 jets from Bombardier.  However, to operate these planes from the airport, the airline needs the runway to be extended by 1,102 feet (336 metres) or 551 feet (168 metres) in each direction.  This is not without controversy.

In my opinion, this extension in not needed and should not be done.  For one thing, Pickering is to receive a new airport in the coming years, and Hamilton’s airport is underused now.  Plus, Pearson also offers service from other airlines.  Airlines already have enough problems making profits, so why should there be more service from Toronto to western Canada, California, and Florida?  Plus, the extension would just promote more planes from the Island, and we need to look at making service from Toronto area airports more efficient.  Adding planes does not accomplish this.

So instead of increasing the length of the runway my recommendations are as follows:  if Porter insists on increasing service through longer distance locations then those flights should be made out of either Pearson or Hamilton.  To allow for more room at Pearson, some shorter distance flights could be moved to the island airport (such as New York, Boston, and Chicago.)  Other destinations do not require as many flights, such as Ottawa and Montreal – plus these routes could see extra capacity if VIA Rail expanded its service from Toronto to Ottawa and Montreal.  This would allow more room at Pearson and Hamilton.  This would allow Porter flights to western Canada, California, and Florida – although Porter would do better in my opinion if it concentrated on the routes it already operates and allow the other airlines to serve western Canada, California, and Florida.

So, do we need to see the runway at the island airport?  No, we do not.  It is that simple.

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