Key decision on Porter CSeries proposal to come next week

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The executive committee of Toronto’s city council will decide next week whether to move forward Porter Airlines’ proposal to bring the CSeries to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

In a 25 March meeting, the committee will decide whether the airline’s proposal will be heard during a full city council as soon as 1 April—nearly a year after the carrier first announced it had placed a conditional order for the CS100 variant during a press conference in Toronto on 10 April 2013.

If it receives the necessary approvals, Porter would start receiving 12 firm 107-seat aircraft in 2016 and expand its route network to cities as far away as Vancouver and Los Angeles. The conditional order also includes 18 options.

These distances lie outside the range that Porter’s Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprops can fly today from Billy Bishop, which precludes jet operations until 2033 under a tripartite agreement between the city of Toronto, Transport Canada and the Toronto Port Authority. Porter is seeking to amend the agreement to allow CS100 operations and to lengthen the airport’s nearly 4,000ft (1,219m) runway by at least 168m on each side to accommodate the larger jet.

During the press conference to announce the order last April, Porter’s president and chief executive Rob Deluce told Flightglobal that hoped that the city council would reach a decision within six months. However, the process to hear the proposal has taken longer than expected. The executive committee voted to defer consideration of the plan on 5 December to further analyse how it would impact the environment and surrounding waterfront community, and a decision planned for February was then postponed.

While Porter’s proposal to fly further from the island airport has received support from several unions and Toronto businesses, some citizens and groups in Toronto have raised concerns about how opening up the airport to jets would impact the environment, noise and traffic. A report from Toronto’s deputy city manager recommended that consideration of the proposal be pushed back to March 2015 to give the public more time to consider the plan.

Earlier this week, Porter said that its supporters had voted Vancouver as their preferred destination for new service if it gains the CSeries approval, ahead of Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The airline says it typically reduces base fares in new markets it enters by 60%.

"We are constantly hearing requests from our customers to fly to more destinations, and Vancouver is one that is mentioned often," says Deluce. "It would be a great addition to Porter's network and I sincerely hope that everyone who voted Vancouver as their favourite destination will be able to fly there with us starting in 2016."