The announcement yesterday of $142 million federal funding for transit and other improvements at Pearson Airport is yet another blow to the survival chances of the Island Airport.
Porter Airlines, which has had a virtual monopoly on commercial passenger services there, has already complained that the Union-Pearson Express has seriously hurt its business. Porter has disclosed, In a letter of December 21, 2018 to the Island Airport terminal owner, Nieuport Aviation, that
“Increased ridership traction on UP Express has reduced the locational advantage that [the Island Airport] once had relative to Pearson”
Improving transit to Pearson will only make things worse.
Porter was already losing a lot of money. From that same letter:
“In 2018 Porter is forecast to have a net income loss amounting to approximately $39,650,000”
As a result, Porter, which has ordered jets to operate out of Pearson, has threatened to move its entire operations to Pearson:
“If Porter were to leave [the Island Airport], there appears to be no viable alternative for the airport. … Given that the cost of operating from [the Island Airport] is almost 3 times that of Pearson we do not think it is likely that either Air Canada or WestJet would significantly expand operations to fill the gap that would be left if Porter exited the market”
The Island Airport's woes don't stop there:
Transport Canada is requiring every Canadian airport with more than 325,000 passengers annually to have a Runway End Safety Area of at least 150 m. That would require an extension of the Island Airport's runway into Toronto Harbour, and into Humber Bay. For now, as result of the pandemic, that threshold is not met. The last attempt to extend the runway, to accommodate jets, met with huge opposition and proved unsuccessful.
An essential portion of the Island Airport lands is leased by the City rent-free. That lease expires June 30, 2033. If it is not renewed, the Airport ceases to operate. Can an expenditure of an estimated $75 million for the Runway And Safety Areas be justified if the airport only has just over 11 years left to operate?
CTV News article