Porter Airlines seeks Toronto's approval for CS100 plan by July

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Toronto city councillors would have to accept Porter Airlines' plan to fly the Bombardier CS100 at Billy Bishop Toronto Island Airport by July for the carrier to finalise necessary approvals ahead of the first aircraft delivery in 2016, says chief executive Robert Deluce in a letter to Toronto mayor Rob Ford dated 22 April.

"This would allow for the infrastructure requirements to be designed and completed ahead of our first delivery in early 2016," he says.

Receiving the green light from the city of Toronto is the first major step in the process of finalising a conditional purchase order for 12 CS100 jets and purchase rights for six Q400s, which Porter revealed earlier this month. That deal also includes options for 18 of the 107-seat CS100s.

A 1983 tripartite agreement between the Toronto Port Authority, Canadian government and the city of Toronto bans commercial jets from flying in and out of Billy Bishop. Porter is asking each party to support an exemption to operate the CS100 at the airport as well as approval for a 168m extension of the island airport's main runway, which the Toronto Port Authority would have to support.

Achieving support from the council is one of the first critical steps for Porter to move its plans along, as the Toronto Port Authority has said that it is not considering any changes to the use of the airport until the councillors reach a decision. The order is conditional on receiving approval from all three of these members of the tripartite agreement, says Deluce in the letter.

Toronto's city council executive committee will decide on 7 May whether to allow the city to move forward with a report on the effects of operating the CS100 at Billy Bishop and the required runway extension, minutes from a 23 April meeting show.

At that meeting, Toronto mayor Rob Ford requested that the councillors allow the city manager to report back to city council on 3 July about the potential impacts of Porter's plans.

The report will assess several criteria, including whether Porter would be able to operate the jets in accordance with strict noise limitations in place at the airport and whether changes to Transport Canada regulations on runway end safety areas would impact the project.

Ford has also requested the city manager look into whether Porter's request to receive an exemption specifically for the CS100 is better than removing the ban on jet propulsion technology altogether.

Councillors at the meeting also motioned that the report embody research on how Porter's request would impact the environment and traffic, as well as the city's projects to revitalise the waterfront.

Jet technology has changed considerably since the agreement was put in place, Deluce says. The CS100 will have a similar noise profile to the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 that it now flies at Billy Bishop, Bombardier told Flightglobal when the order was unveiled on 10 April.

Porter would absorb any costs associated with producing the report, per a motion by another councillor.

Deluce has reiterated that bringing the jets to Toronto's island airport would create up to 1,000 jobs, noting that it would plan to operate service to destinations as far as Vancouver, Los Angeles and the Caribbean. The carrier operates 26 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprops out of the airport now.

The CSeries' first test flight is scheduled for June, with first deliveries scheduled to begin in mid-2014.