Toronto city approves initial study of Porter’s plans for jets at Billy Bishop

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Porter Airlines is one step closer to putting its expansion plans in place after Toronto's city council approved a study on the effects of opening Billy Bishop Toronto City airport to the Bombardier CS100 jet.

On 7 May Toronto's city council voted to commission an initial study on Porter's proposal, which include opening up Billy Bishop to the CS100 and extending either side of the airport's main runway by 168m.

The first phase of the study, to be completed in July, is expected to cost Canadian dollar (C$) 275,000 ($274,000).

Porter still has a long list of requirements to meet before it could put its expansion plan in place, but the step is significant because it puts the wheels in motion for councillors to engage in serious discussions about the proposal over the next few months.

"We would like to offer more destinations across North America from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and the study is an important step in this direction," says Porter.

Porter says it "has offered to contribute reasonable costs" for the studies and continues to do so, but notes that the council seems to be giving direction that it would like the Toronto Port Authority to pay the bill.

Toronto's city manager will report back on 3 July with the findings of the initial report. Then, the city will decide whether move forward with a more in-depth report that would serve as the basis for further discussions later this year. The second phase of the study is estimated to cost between C$800 and C$1 million.

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

Billy Bishop Toronto City airport is governed by a long-term tripartite agreement between the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), the Canadian government and the city of Toronto. All three parties must agree to changes of the use of the airport, but the Toronto Port Authority has said it will wait for the city council's lead before taking a position on the plans. Transport Canada has not been approached by either party yet to make any changes to the agreement.

Porter is expecting its first delivery of the CS100 in 2016. The aircraft is expected to make its first flight at the end of June. Bombardier expects the CS100 to have a similar noise profile as the Q400s that the airline operates out of the airport now, and Porter is highlighting that detail as it engages in discussions with the city about the proposal.