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Time to retire Billy Bishop (Airport)

Following this critique of Ports Toronto’s celebration of airports in general, and Billy Bishop in particular, U of T’s Professor Sandford Borins published his own. It’s well worth the read.

From the article

This celebration of airports in general, and Billy Bishop in particular, runs up against four inconvenient facts.
The first inconvenient fact, never mentioned in the CCG Report, is the Union-Pearson Express. This train takes 25 minutes to go from Union Station to Pearson, making it much more accessible and less expensive to downtown traveler's than taking a taxi. With the revival of air travel after the pandemic, UP Express is running every 15 minutes during peak hours and every 30 minutes during off-peaks.

The second inconvenient fact is that Porter Airlines, Billy Bishop’s major user, is getting cold feet about Billy Bishop. Porter would like to fly jets both to nearby destinations it currently serves from Billy Bishop and to other more distant destinations. It is apprehensive that, due to concerns about noise and air pollution, the runway at Billy Bishop won’t be lengthened to accommodate jets. Porter sold its terminal at Billy Bishop to Nieuport Aviation for $700 million in 2015, but during the pandemic stopped paying rent. Nieuport successfully sued Porter for $130 million in damages in a decision in Ontario Superior Court announced last fall. So we have an unstable situation with the terminal owner looking for business to recover its investment and its major tenant, unhappy with the rent, positioning itself to move out. Indeed, Porter began jet service on February 1 from Toronto to Montreal and to Ottawa from a new hub at Pearson’s Terminal 3.

The third inconvenient fact is Zoom, which has proven to be an effective substitute for many in-person meetings and will therefore reduce the level of business travel for the foreseeable future.

The fourth inconvenient fact is that airplanes are among the most significant emitters of greenhouse gases. Carbon taxes will therefore drive up airline ticket prices. And members of the creative class are likely to be aware of this inconvenient fact, and, for love of this planet, reduce their air travel.

Professor of Public Management Emeritus at the University of Toronto


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