Porter asks to land jets on Toronto island airport

Updated: 04/10/2013 6:05 PM KSTP.com

(AP) TORONTO - Porter Airlines is seeking permission to land jets at Toronto’s island airport and extend the runway on the city’s waterfront as the upstart airline seeks to expand to destinations across North America, the company’s chief executive said Wednesday.

Jets currently are not allowed to fly out of the waterfront airport under an agreement between the city, the federal government and the Toronto Port Authority. Porter Chief Executive Robert Deluce said he wants the rule changed within six months.

Porter, a popular passenger airline since its debut in 2006, flies turboprops short distances but now hopes to fly jets to places like Los Angeles, Vancouver, Calgary and Florida.

A deal to buy 12 Canadian-made Bombardier CS100s jets is conditional on getting approval for the jet and runway expansion.

The proposal is expected to meet with stiff community opposition. A previous Toronto mayor won an election by fighting the construction of a bridge to the island airport. But Toronto now has a conservative mayor, and the federal government is conservative.

The Toronto Port Authority said it wouldn’t take any position on Porter’s business plans. Spokesmen for the mayor and the prime minister didn’t return messages seeking comment.

Deluce said the CS100 jet is four times quieter than other jets in production. He said they are seeking to extend the main runway at the airport by 168 meters (184 yards) at each end.

The island airport was once a sleepy airport, but Porter took exclusive control of its takeoff and landing slots in 2006 and has expanded from two planes to more than 20 now. Many city residents enjoy the airport’s proximity to downtown. Toronto’s main airport, Pearson International, is just outside the city.

Air Canada, the country’s largest airline, said it wants assurance that slots will become available for other airlines on the island before taking a position.

Porter no longer controls all the slots, but it controls most of them. Air Canada currently has only enough landing and takeoff slots to offer service between Montreal and the Toronto island airport.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)