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City urged to delay Porter Airlines expansion decision

TORONTO – Toronto city officials are recommending that councillors delay a decision on Porter Airlines’ expansion plans until 2015, according to a consultant’s report.

The report was released just before noon Thursday. Click here to read it.

Porter has been seeking permission from the city to fly jets out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport after signing a $2.08-billion deal with Bombardier in April to buy up to 30 CS100 airliners. It also needs city permission to extend its runway on each end.

Trinity-Spadina Coun. Adam Vaughan, who hasn’t been a fan of the Billy Bishop airport in general, told 680News the expansion plan is too pricey and there are too many unanswered questions.

“This project is so much more complex, so much more expensive and so much more complicated than just jets or no jets. It requires tunnelling of the streetcar underneath Queen’s Quay just after we spend $1-billion fixing the street,” Coun. Vaughan said.

Under a tripartite agreement with the municipal, provincial and federal governments, jets are prohibited at the island airport. Currently, Porter uses Bombardier’s Q400 turboprops.

However, Porter argues that jets are quieter and cleaner than when the tripartite agreement was signed in 1983.

Vaughan said it’s not just about noise levels of the new Bombardier jets. He said it requires building an airport the size of Ottawa’s airport on a piece of land one-third the size.

Deputy mayor Norm Kelly said there’s no reason to put off the decision.

“You give conditional consent. You just say ‘yes, we’ll agree to work with you but one of the conditions is a noise condition. If you can’t meet it, there’s no deal’,” Kelly said.

Porter Airlines CEO Robert Deluce said he’s “optimistic that a majority of the executive committee and council will see the proposal’s value.”

He also said council has the upper hand.

“Upon final runway design approval, if that runway extension does not meet the requirements, the proposal won’t proceed,” Deluce said.

The executive committee is expected to consider the report at its meeting on Dec. 5. Click here to read the agenda item.


Deputy city manager John Livey discussed the staff report at a scrum Thursday afternoon. Listen to it below:

680News reporter Charlene Close spoke with Robert Deluce about the report. Listen to the interview below: