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Five things to know about Porter Airlines’ high-stakes plans for expansion

(Image: Porter Airlines)

Porter Airlines revealed some big plans yesterday: the airline wants to add 15 new routes to its repertoire, eight Bombardier jets to its fleet and over 300 metres to the runway at the Island Airport. Though many Torontonians would welcome the convenience of more routes out of the downtown hub, it’s going to take a lot more than a few free cookies to convince residents and politicians that the added noise and pollution are worth it. Below, five need-to-know facts about the proposal.

1. New jets would mean a lot of new—and sunny—destinations 
With Bombardier CSeries 100 jets, Porter would have the ability to fly anywhere in North America and the Caribbean from Toronto. The company’s full list of proposed routes comprises: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, St. John’s and Halifax in Canada; San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tampa, Fort Myers, Orlando, West Palm Beach and Miami in the U.S.; and Nassau in the Bahamas.

2. The plan is far from a sure-bet…
The Island Airport is governed by an tripartite agreement—between the federal government, the City of Toronto and the Port Authority—that prohibits jets. All three would have to agree to an amendment, and would also have to approve Porter’s proposal to lengthen the runway by 168 metres on either side to allow the larger planes to land.

3. …but that’s not stopping Porter from forging ahead
Although Porter CEO Robert Deluce said he hasn’t yet had discussions with any of the three governing bodies, the company has already signed a conditional order with Bombardier for 12 planes, with options for another 18.

4. Noise is shaping up to be the central issue
Prohibiting jets is an outdated concept, says Deluce, because Porter’s new Bombardier jets are no noisier than its current fleet of Q400 turboprops. But opponents to the plan say lifting the jet ban would allow other companies using the airport to land their older, noisier jets there.

5. Politicians have already started taking sides
Doug Ford is on board, given the added jobs and convenience the expansion would bring. Adam Vaughan, conversely, came out strongly against the plan (“What they are really talking about here is filling in the lake and paving it”), as did Shelley Carroll, Gord Perks and Karen Stintz. Former mayor David Miller also turned in a strongly-worded condemnation—not terribly surprising, since he staked his first campaign on opposition to a bridge to the airport.

Porter Airlines wants to fly jets from Toronto Island airport [Toronto Star]
• Toronto council gears up for battle over Porter proposal to lift jet ban, expand runway at island airport [National Post]
Jets landing in Toronto? City Hall divided [Toronto Sun]