MONTREAL, April 2, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - 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:
"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."
SOURCE Air Canada - Corporate - Finance