MONTREAL – The CEO of Porter Airlines believes his desire to fly jets in and out of Toronto’s waterfront airport will ultimately win city council support because it addresses the technical issues that concern most people.
“I think that we have an excellent chance of getting the required approvals that would allow these whisper jets to start operating by as early as January 2016,” Robert Deluce said in an interview.
He was in Montreal on Monday to receive an honorary doctorate of science degree from McGill University.
Deluce said Bombardier’s CSeries will be as quiet as the Q400 turboprops currently in use and the boat exclusion zone will remain untouched despite a required runway extension of 168 metres at both ends.
The plan has stirred vocal opposition from community leaders and several Toronto city councillors. But dealing with the noise and exclusion zone issues address most concerns anyone “could reasonably have” with the proposal, he said in an interview.
City council support is essential to amending a tripartite agreement with the federal government and the port authority that prevents jets from using Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport except under special circumstances.
Toronto council recently voted 29-15 to send the proposal to staff for further study and recommendation, which come this summer.
Deluce said winning council support won’t be undermined by the controversy surrounding Mayor Rob Ford, a key backer.
He said Porter never counted on the mayor and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, to lead the fight to allow the airline to fly jets out of the airport on the city’s waterfront.
“We are appreciative of their votes but we’re…hopeful that at the end of the day we’ll enjoy a good cross-section of support from all councillors.”
The mayor has denied allegations published in various media that he smoked crack cocaine, while his brother has denied a report that alleged he dealt hashish as a young man.
Porter Airlines last month placed a conditional order for 12 CS100 aircraft, with 18 options worth about US$2.08 billion. The aircraft will allow it to fly to Los Angeles, Florida, Calgary and the Caribbean from Toronto.
Critics say Porter doesn’t attract sufficient traffic to make a strong business case to fly the CSeries from the airport.
But Deluce disagreed, saying the flights would attract sufficient number of passengers from the Toronto area and from its other airports.
He added that the aircraft could be used out of mini hubs in Ottawa, Montreal or Halifax, or eventually from airports in Western Canada.
Deluce said he expects other airlines could eventually fly the CSeries out of the Toronto airport if they can obtain landing slots.