Porter Airlines has cancelled routes from Toronto Island Billy Bishop Airport to North Bay and Pittsburgh.
Service to North Bay began in October 2015 and will terminate on September 11, 2017. Porter has had two flights a day to Pittsburgh starting in September 2015. This route will also terminate in September of this year. In both cases the reason given by Porter to cancel the routes was lack of demand.
Cutting back on the number of routes by Porter begs the question about the viability of the airline and the use of the Island Airport for passenger flights. We don’t know about the financial health of Porter. The airline is a private company and is not required to publish financial statements. But this we do know.
In 2010, when Porter attempted an IPO the financial statement in their prospectus showed that the company had lost $40 million.
CommunityAIR closely monitors the number of passengers using the airport. These numbers are published in the Toronto Port Authority annual reports. These are the number of passengers using Billy Bishop in the last five years.
- 2016 — 2.7 million passengers
- 2015 — 2.5 million passengers
- 2014 — 2.4 million passengers
- 2013 — 2.3 million passengers
- 2012 — 2.3 million passengers
What these figures illustrate is that there is very little growth in the number of passengers using Billy Bishop Airport despite the fact that there has been dramatic growth of the number of airline passengers in Canada and world wide. Now, with the cut back of routes flown by Porter, we can expect the number of passengers will begin to shrink.
What, then, is the future of Porter Airlines, and the future of the Island’s Billy Bishop Airport? Those decisions, unfortunately, will be left with pro-airport ideologues who control the Toronto Port Authority and the executives of Porter Airlines, not the people who live along the Waterfront and are affected by the planes taking off and landing at the airport. But this we do know.
The 215 acres of the Island Airport land are far more valuable if they were developed as housing rather than as an airport. The property taxes alone that the city would gain would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
And by closing the airport the quality of life of all the people who use the Waterfront will be improved dramatically. This includes the residents who live there, employees, and those who use the Island, the harbour, Lake Ontario, and the Waterfront for recreation.