Last week we promised a progress update on Porter Airlines’ airport runway expansion proposal, pending acceptance by Toronto city council. Yesterday a step in favour of the airline was made at the council’s monthly meeting, when a cornerstone of its agenda, whether or not to allow a corollary review on the plan, was approved by a vote of 29-15.
The tripartite that regulates the Toronto islands and Billy Bishop airport, where Porter is based, must consent to the possible extension of the airport runway to accommodate jet aircraft that Porter seeks to add to its fleet. There is currently a ban on such aircraft from operating, with a lack of the requisite longer runway to back it up.
Council’s green light on the review means the cost and consequences of jet aircraft will now be officially studied, which must precede the tripartite agreement’s decision. The review will consider the local community, as well as the signatories of the tripartite agreement and airport stakeholders. Porter is pushing the release date of the study for July, when its conditional agreement with aircraft manufacturer Bombardier for the purchase of 12 CS100 jets (described as ‘whisper jets’) expires. Porter will pay for the first phase of the study, a price tag estimated at $250,000 to $275,000. There is no word yet on who will foot the bill for the second, more costly, study.
The proposal is not without its high-profile opponents. NO Jets TO is a newly-formed, not-for-profit heralding the negative consequences of allowing jets into the airspace, with high-profile figures like with Margaret Atwood onboard.
Yesterday’s council meeting was proof that the debate is a contentious one, when heated remarks from both councillors and local community members were fired at one another.
Please let us know your opinion. Do you think Porter Airlines should be allowed to develop its runway and purchase a fleet of new jets, or should the decades-old ban on jet aircraft remain?