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Porter Airlines to press advantage with new terminal at Toronto City Center Airport

Porter Airlines CEO, Robert Deluce
Porter Airlines CEO, Robert Deluce

With Air Canada and others chomping at the bit to gain access to the Toronto City Center Airport, three-year old Porter Airlines pressed its advantage at the site by showing off the initial phase of the new CAD50 million, 150,000 sqft terminal set to open next month. Porter Airlines’ new home at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport opens to passengers on 07-Mar-2010 and the airline expects 1.3 million passengers in 2010 compared to the 22,000 that used the airport prior to Porter’s launch.

“Toronto City Airport is an increasingly important part of the region’s transportation infrastructure,” said President and CEO of Robert Deluce. “This investment demonstrates a long-term commitment to customer-focused service at this location. Torontonians and visitors from an expanding list of regional destinations have clearly shown that they value Toronto City Airport based on record-setting passenger numbers.”

The Financial Post reported that the terminal changes had been privately funded and the company will seek new capital either through an initial public offering or private investment to sustain the massive growth rates experienced over the past few years. It quoted Porter Airlines Chair, Don Carty, as saying the timing would likely come after the final two of a 20-aircraft Bombardier Q400 order are delivered this spring.

The terminal project is that of City Centre Terminal Corp, a subsidiary of Porter Aviation Holdings, which also owns Porter Airlines and hosts it as a tenant. It is now seeking retail, food services, duty-free, and other tenants for the 150,000 sqft, two-phase project. Phase one includes lounge facilities, a spacious check-in hall and office space.  The full facility, including ten bridged aircraft gates and two passenger lounges, is scheduled for completion by fall 2010. The new lounges will triple current capacity and include standard complimentary Porter amenities such as a business centre, modern lounge-style seating, beverages, snacks and Wi-Fi. It will also be capable of doing the pre-screening necessary for US-bound passengers, affording additional cross-border opportunities beyond the few now done by the airline.

“Three short years have given rise to tremendous growth at Porter,” said Mr Carty.  “In October 2006, the airline was serving one market with two aircraft.  As of today, passengers can book flights to 12 destinations beyond Toronto and the fleet has grown to include 18 aircraft.”

The unveiling honored World War I Flying Ace Billy Bishop, for whom the airport is named. Memorabilia, displayed in cooperation of Billy Bishop Home & Museum in Owen Sound, and Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, was included in the celebration in advance of opening up a permanent exhibit at the airport.

With the initial phase a shining example of 'Porter power', the Toronto Port Authority has recently been sued by Air Canada which wants to regain access to the airport, as well as for its regional partner Air Canada Jazz, which have been excluded. Continental is also interested in the downtown airport.

The Financial Post reported that Port Authority is opening up processes to attract new carriers, even with Porter as landlord through President Robert DeLuce’s City Centre Terminal Corp. In addition to its suit, Air Canada is objecting to the process, saying it would require 74 slots, which would make up the bulk of the 42-92 slots set to be made available for other carriers. Porter has 120 slots, further angering Canada’s largest carrier.

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