Air Canada sues for Toronto City Centre access

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Air Canada is seeking access to the Toronto City Centre Airport through a court order as its regional partner Jazz has dropped its legal action against airport operator Toronto Port Authority (TPA).

The Canadian Federal Court has issued an order to allow Air Canada to challenge TPA's slot allocation methodology, and hearings have been set from 6 July to 8 July.

Both carriers have argued that the TPA has used an "improper" process to award slots to rival Porter Airlines.

"As a result of the TPA's non-transparent arrangement with Porter for all the available slots at the airport, Porter has enjoyed an unfair monopoly on the Island business corridor," Air Canada executive vice president and chief commercial officer Ben Smith says in a statement. "This puts Air Canada and other airlines at an enormous disadvantage in attracting passengers flying to or from downtown Toronto. It is not the role of the TPA to suppress competition - its duty is to run a public facility for the benefit of the travelling public, with fair access for interested carriers."

The Air Canada hearing comes after Jazz ceased operations at the Toronto City Centre Airport in February 2006 after receiving a lease termination from lease holder City Centre Aviation, which was controlled by Robert Deluce, the CEO of Porter. Porter is based at City Centre.

Following the lease termination, the TPA in August 2006 refused to approve a sublease agreement between Jazz and airport tenant Stolport.

Jazz pursued legal action at both the federal level and in the Ontario court but dropped those efforts.

"Jazz discontinued its action because Air Canada's new judicial review application will be heard before Jazz's action could have been heard," a Jazz spokeswoman says.

In addition to the legal action, Air Canada has submitted a request with the TPA to serve the downtown facility with 15 roundtrips a day to both Ottawa and Montreal and seven roundtrips a day to New York Newark Liberty International airport.

Porter operates Bombardier Q400s from City Centre to Newark, Montreal and Ottawa, according to schedules in Innovata.

Porter was not immediately available to comment.