TORONTO (AP) — Porter Airlines is seeking permission to land jets at Toronto's island airport and extend the runway on the city's waterfront as the upstart airline seeks to expand to destinations across North America, the company's chief executive said Wednesday.
Jets currently are not allowed to fly out of the waterfront airport under an agreement between the city, Canada's federal government and the Toronto Port Authority. Porter Chief Executive Robert Deluce said he wants the rule changed within six months.
Porter, a popular passenger airline since its debut in 2006, flies turboprops short distances but now hopes to fly jets to places like Los Angeles, Vancouver, Calgary and Florida.
A deal to buy 12 Canadian-made Bombardier CS100 jets is conditional on getting approval for the jet and runway expansion.
The proposal is expected to meet with stiff community opposition. A previous Toronto mayor won an election by fighting the construction of a bridge to the island airport. But Toronto now has a conservative mayor, and the federal government is also conservative and is closely aligned with the port authority.
The Toronto Port Authority said it wouldn't take any position on Porter's business plans. A spokesman for the prime minister deferred comment to Transport Canada, a federal agency, which said it has not been approached by either the city or the port authority nor received a request from anyone to amend the agreement against jets. A spokesman for the mayor didn't return messages.
Adam Vaughan, a councilor who represents the district around the airport, said the proposal is not likely to be approved by city council.
"It just isn't going to happen," Vaughan said. "The question in front of us is do we want to fill in Lake Ontario, pave it with a runway and start landing jets of every shape and size with all different kinds of pollution and noise counts and I think the answer to that is already pretty clear."
Deluce said the CS100 jet is four times quieter than other jets in production. Vaughan said if they opened the island airport to Porter's Bombardier jets they would have to open it up to other jets.
Deluce said they are seeking to extend the main runway at the airport by 168 meters (184 yards) at each end.
The island airport was once a sleepy airport, but Porter took exclusive control of its takeoff and landing slots in 2006 and has expanded from two planes to 26 now. Many city residents enjoy the airport's proximity to downtown. Toronto's main airport, Pearson International, is just outside the city.
Air Canada, the country's largest airline, said it wants assurance that slots will become available for other airlines on the island before taking a position.
Porter no longer controls all the slots, but it controls most of them. Air Canada currently has only enough landing and takeoff slots to offer service between Montreal and the Toronto island airport.