Porter had its event at YTZ’s Hanger 6 where they made their big announcement. Make no mistake, this is big news for them and for Billy Bishop Airport. The airline wants the runway extended 168m in both directions. To get this they need to get three parties (Tripartite Agreement) to agree to this. If the airline is lucky, they will get the approvals they seek because of the current elected officials. We understand the current political types are more likely to favor this than they might in 2014 when the next elections come up. Elections and airports typically don’t mix well.
Based on our visit it seems the airline will be playing up the following issues;
- The CS will have the same noise footprint as the Q400 they currently use – so more noise than exists at present.
- Twice Porter’s CEO referred to the CS as the “whisper jet” – expect that name to be used again and again
- The CS will not be flying out of the airport with the same daily frequencies as the Q400s because they will be used on longer hauls and probably do one out and one return per day.
- Growing the runway and allowing the CS in will create lots of jobs (great for elections) – not only local jobs at the airport but also Canadian jobs at Bombardier and P&WC.
Against this will come opposition to the growth from neighbors who don’t like the noise or threat of noise. We suspect the opposition will get surreptitious support from Porter’s competition who will find the planned service disruptive to their own business. But it might be a tough sell.
We understand that Porter has undertaken focus groups from airport neighbors and the closer people live to the airport the more they want to see service grow. Even so, there will be opposition. The trade off the politicians will have to deal with revolves around jobs for Canada and Toronto against a few hundred (our estimate) opponents. While the airline is confident, the deal is not a shoo in.
The airline and its vendors were very well prepared. Take a look.