Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre said Thursday that a federal government led by him would approve a runway expansion at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which would allow jet planes to enter and depart. get out of the city center.
In a statement to media, Poilievre said the move would increase competition in the aviation industry and provide passengers with an alternative to Toronto Pearson International Airport.
“Travel at Pearson is a mess right now,” he said. “There could have been a lot more flights from Billy Bishop Airport in downtown Toronto, which means more competition and more choice, but the terrible gatekeepers wouldn’t let that happen.
“I will reverse Trudeau’s decision to side with them and allow jets in and out of Billy Bishop Airport to put people back in control of their lives.”
Pearson International has recently been grappling with flight delays and cancellations as airlines adjust to higher passenger levels after the pandemic slows.
Pearson and Air Canada lead the international pack in the percentage of flights delayed in the past month, frequently exceeding 50%.
“We can all understand why they are angry and frustrated. Your flight is canceled and they tell you to call and you wait six hours – and I’m not exaggerating,” said Leslie Dias, director of airlines at Unifor. The union represents 16,000 airline workers, including 5,600 customer service and sales agents at Air Canada.
“To some extent, our people are broken,” Dias told The Canadian Press Wednesday from Calgary, where she’s embroiled in a labor dispute on behalf of baggage and customer service agents.
“They are upset, they are often on the verge of tears, they are exhausted. In all airlines, they are asked to work as many hours as they can. And they feel helpless.”
Dias added that police are called to the airport gates daily in response to verbal harassment from travellers.
Airport expansion died in 2015
Poilievre said as premier he would ask his transport minister to open up the sector to more competition and encourage Porter Airlines to bring the proposed expansion of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport back on the table .
He said he would also advise the City of Toronto and PortsToronto to approve a proposal to extend the runway, provided taxpayers do not have to bear the cost.
A Poilievre government, he said, would reopen the tripartite agreement with PortsToronto, the airport and the City of Toronto to allow jets to operate from the airport.
In December 2015, PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Airport, said plans to bring jets to the small airport had fallen through.
“PortsToronto will complete technical work currently underway, but will not pursue other public engagement-related activities regarding Porter’s proposal to introduce jets,” agency CEO Geoffrey Wilson said in a statement. a press release at the time. “As such, the studies will not be completed.”
PortsToronto’s decision followed an announcement the previous month by then-Transportation Minister Marc Garneau that his government would not amend the tripartite agreement to remove the ban on commercial jets.
According to the terms of the agreement, if one of the parties to the arrangement refuses to review it, the agreement cannot be reopened.
Porter Airlines wanted to fly Bombardier CS-100 planes from this airport and had pushed for the reopening of the tripartite agreement.