Eleventh-hour deal keeps Ornge flying out of Billy Bishop Airport

News from The Star – link to story

By Kevin Donovan, Chief Investigative Reporter | Sat., May 30, 2020

Ornge will continue to fly out of the Billy Bishop island airport after agreeing to a new rent deal.  ORNGE

A last-minute reprieve with a favourable rent deal will keep the air ambulance service Ornge flying out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport during the pandemic, officials say.

Ornge’s annual rent at the downtown airport has been reset by landlord Ports Toronto to roughly $200,000 a year. It was a whopping $5 million for the three-month period of March, April and May because Ornge had to cover all airport costs after Porter Airlines and Air Canada ceased flying from the island.

The provincial health ministry, which funds Ornge ($204 million annually), paid that bill to keep the airport open. Now, at least for the time being, the annual rent is back to normal.

“It is vital that Ornge maintains operations (at Billy Bishop) as it is a key patient transport hub providing quick access to trauma hospitals,” said Hayley Chazan, a spokesperson for provincial health minister Christine Elliott.

Ports Toronto and the ministry are still discussing terms going forward. Both parties are hoping normal airport operations will resume later this summer.

“We are exceedingly proud to have Ornge based at Billy Bishop Airport and are committed to do whatever we can, within our power, to keep Ornge at Billy Bishop Airport and return the airport itself to strength as soon as is possible and appropriate,” said Deborah Wilson, a Ports Toronto spokesperson.

Ornge operates two full-time helicopter crews out of Billy Bishop, and also flies fixed-wing aircraft from the island airport.

Several weeks ago, the Star revealed an unusual financial arrangement had arisen when Porter and Air Canada pulled out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport in March due to the global pandemic. Only one tenant — the provincially funded Ornge — was left to keep the lights on. For three months, that amounted to close to $5 million.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Named One of World’s Best by Skytrax World Airport Awards

From PortsToronto

TORONTO, May 13, 2020 /CNW/ – Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has once again been ranked among the world’s best by the Skytrax World Airport Awards, a global benchmark of airport excellence voted on by nearly 14 million passengers worldwide. Ranking seventh in two categories – Best Airports in North America and World’s Best Airports (under five million passengers category) – this is the seventh consecutive year that Billy Bishop Airport has been recognized as one of the world’s top airports by the prestigious awards.

The 2020 Awards are based on millions of airport survey questionnaires completed in 2019 by more than 100 different nationalities of air travellers, covering 550 airports worldwide. In the independent survey, passengers continued to rank Billy Bishop Airport highly across 39 key performance indicators, including fast check-in times, ease of access to the terminal, and the courtesy and efficiency of airport staff.

“As passengers, airlines and airports collectively adapt to the new realities of air travel in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is incredibly gratifying to once again be named as one of the world’s best by the Skytrax World Airport Awards,” said Geoffrey Wilson, CEO of PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Airport. “To be recognized for the seventh consecutive year in the passenger-driven Skytrax awards reinforces that Billy Bishop Airport – one of the world’s only walkable, bike-able airports with an award-winning scenic approach – is striking a positive chord with passengers. With international accolades such as these driving us to stay the course and excel despite trying times, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport will carry on its 80-year history of enabling business, facilitating tourism and providing a superior travel experience directly into the heart of Canada’s largest city.”

Billy Bishop Airport has won a series of passenger-driven awards over the last several years including being named one of the top airports globally and in North America by Airports Council International’s (ACI) Airport Service Quality Awards. Billy Bishop Airport has also been ranked as the fourth Best International Airport by Condé Nast Traveler and has ranked in the top ten on Private Fly’s list for Most Scenic Airport Approaches in the world for five consecutive years.

For more information on Skytrax World Airport Awards 2020 click here.

Skytrax Canadian Winners

From World Airport Awards – 11 May 2020

Vancouver International Airport YVR (Top 100 Ranking – 13 | 17 in 2019)
– Best Airport: 20-30 million passengers
Best Airport in North America

Toronto Pearson YYZ (Top 100 Ranking – 42 | 50 in 2019)
-Best Airport: 50-60 million passengers

Montréal-Trudeau International Airport YUL (Top 100 Ranking – 57 | 62 in 2019)
– Best Airport Staff in North America

Best Airports 2020: up to 5 million passengers
7. Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
8. Halifax Stanfield International Airport

Fairmont Vancouver Airport
– Best Airport Hotel in North America

Support to Canada’s Air Transportation Sector

From: Department of Finance Canada ~ 30 March 2020


The Government of Canada recognizes the unprecedented disruption to the air transportation sector resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, air passenger traffic has declined significantly as governments around the world impose border restrictions and advise their citizens to avoid unnecessary travel as a measure to slow the progression of the disease.

Support to Airports

Airports rely on fees paid by airlines and passengers to sustain their operations. As passenger traffic declines, airports are seeing their revenues fall, while at the same time they need to ensure safe operations.

To help airports reduce cost pressures and preserve cash flow as they deal with the effects of COVID-19 on their revenue, the government is waiving rents paid on ground leases for the 21 airport authorities that form part of the National Airport System and that pay rent to the government. The government will waive rent payments for March 2020 through December 2020.  The government is also providing comparable treatment for PortsToronto, which operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, by waiving payments made to the federal government on revenues generated by the airport. This will provide relief up to $331.4 million, reflecting payments in the same period of 2018.

By waiving ground lease payments, the government is helping these airport authorities to preserve cash flow during the disruption. This will allow them to redeploy cash to help maintain their operations and to support recovery strategies. This approach is consistent with actions taken to support the sector during previous major disruptions, such as the SARS outbreak in 2003.

The 21 National Airport System airport authorities covered by this measure are not-for-profit, non-share capital corporations that pay rents to operate airports in Canada under long-term leases with Transport Canada. Rents are based on revenues earned from operating the airports and related lands, which are owned by the government.

The 21 airport authorities that will receive relief are:

  • St. John’s International Airport Authority
  • Gander International Airport Authority Inc.
  • Halifax International Airport Authority
  • Charlottetown Airport Authority Inc.
  • Saint John Airport Inc.
  • Greater Moncton International Airport Authority Inc.
  • Fredericton International Airport Authority
  • Aéroport de Québec Inc.
  • Aéroports de Montréal
  • Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority
  • Greater Toronto Airports Authority
  • Greater London International Airports Authority
  • Thunder Bay International Airports Inc.
  • Winnipeg Airports Authority Inc.
  • Regina Airport Authority
  • Saskatoon Airport Authority
  • Edmonton Regional Airports Authority
  • Calgary Airport Authority
  • Prince George Airport Authority Inc.
  • Vancouver International Airport Authority
  • Victoria Airport Authority.

PortsToronto operates the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and pays an annual charge to Transport Canada based on the revenues it earns under the terms of its letters patent.  PortsToronto revenues include those generated from operating Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

Global News COMMENTARY: ‘Eerie’ absence of air travel amid coronavirus has repercussions on economy

Provided by Global News – link to full story and updates


An almost-empty Terminal 3 is shown at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Friday, March 13, 2020. .
 An almost-empty Terminal 3 is shown at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Friday, March 13, 2020. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

WATCH: VIDEOS connected with the story

Millions of Torontonians living and working under the flight path of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport may have noticed a big difference recently in the skies above them.

The number of flights into and out of Pearson has been cut by more than 50 per cent over the past couple of weeks, with further grim cuts coming soon because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Air traffic controllers at Pearson, Canada’s busiest airport, usually handle about 1,100 air movements a day, according to data published by the airport. Following air traffic flows on FlightAware.com and FlightRadar.com, it appears that because of bans on travel between Canada and the U.S. and the lack of demand caused by the new coronavirus, there were only about 500 air movements on Wednesday.

The peak morning and afternoon rush hours now have so few flights that the radar picture looks like the usual situation 1 a.m. Additional deep service cuts announced by Canadian and U.S. carriers suggest that the number of flights will drop sharply again by the end of March.

“It’s really eerie,” said an air traffic controller at Pearson airport.

Official flight figures for February and March were still being collated, but “it is well known that the aviation industry has seen air traffic on the whole decrease significantly,” said Brian Boudreau, manager of media relations from Nav Canada, which manages airspace across the country.

U.S. air traffic control centres have had to temporarily suspend flights or have them overseen from backup facilities because several air traffic controllers have become infected with the new coronavirus.

While not specifically saying that no Canadian air traffic controllers had fallen ill with the virus, Boudreau said all of its operations are functioning without interruption.

“We do not anticipate disruptions given the measures we’ve taken in preparation for, and in response to COVID-19,” Boudreau said. “Nav Canada is at a high degree of readiness, with contingency plans in place to ensure the continued safety of Canadian skies.”

What has been happening at Toronto Pearson and all other Canadian airports — as can be seen on flight tracking websites — is a stark illustration of why the International Air Transportation Association announced Wednesday that its 290 member airlines would likely lose $252 billion this year.

As a result of the global pandemic, thousands of Canadian aviation workers are being laid off and airlines have been in talks with Ottawa about emergency financial assistance. Without them, airline executives have said they will fail.

This will cause unpredictable but serious consequences for the Canadian economy unless the aviation industry gets hundreds of millions of dollars in urgent relief that it has been seeking.

While many Canadian businesses are appealing for help, if Canada’s aviation industry falters it would have serious repercussions. That’s because the country’s size, and how thinly the population is spread out, make the economy especially dependent on aviation to fly people and critical cargo around.

The staggering knock-on effects of the disease on the aviation industry can be vividly seen by anyone driving past Kitchener/Waterloo airport. Sunwing Airlines Inc. of Etobicoke, Ont., has parked 13 Boeing 737s there that would normally be flying flat out at this time of year to get Canadian snowbirds to and from sunny destinations in the U.S., the Caribbean and Mexico. All 470 Sunwing pilots were laid off on Monday.

“We had to close one of our runways to make space for the Sunwing aircraft,” said Kitchener Waterloo’s airport manager, Chris Wood. “It is really unfortunate that this is creating huge problems for our industry but we are here to help in any way we can.

“We had conversations with all the carriers last week. Looks like they are all finding homes for their aircraft, typically as close to their maintenance facilities as possible.”

Toronto’s island Billy Bishop airport has also closed one of its runways to park some of Porter Airlines’ fleet of 29 Q-400 aircraft, which stopped flying last Friday. Transat, which is based in Montreal, is winding down all its operations and won’t resume them for at least five weeks.

WestJet Airlines announced this week that it was suspending all international flights and would be cutting 6,900 jobs from its workforce of about 14,000 through voluntary and involuntary layoffs.

It has grounded 126 of its aircraft and parked them at 10 Canadian airports from Terrace, B.C., to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and Halifax, accordingly. The bulk of the Calgary-based carrier’s jets are there or at Toronto’s Pearson, Westjet said in an email Thursday, though some of the aircraft might still be repositioned.

A substantial number of its overwhelmingly Boeing fleet is also in Vancouver, Kelowna or Edmonton. Ten more of them are parked at an airfield in Arizona between Phoenix and Tucson, where there is less corrosion because of the desert air.

Speaking from Geneva on Wednesday, the head of the International Air Transport Association, Alexandre de Juniac, said he expects that because of the new coronavirus, airlines will require $200 billion in emergency government aid to remain solvent. The British government said this week that it would not bail out airlines. However, “as a last resort,” it might speak with some carriers on an individual basis.

The North American aviation industry has generated about two-thirds of the industry’s global profits in recent years. But since the novel coronavirus seized global attention when it was first detected in December, shares in the four leading U.S. carriers have lost between 40 per cent and 66 per cent of their value. The airlines have made an urgent appeal for $50 billion in emergency funding to avoid bankruptcy.

Air Canada is suspending almost all international flights and laying off 60 per cent of its cabin crew.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which are the hubs for international aviation giants Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airlines, announced that effective Wednesday night, all flights to and from those Gulf sheikdoms would be suspended for at least two weeks.

Singapore Airlines, which often wins awards for having the best customer service, cut 96 per cent of its flights on Wednesday and grounded all but 11 of its 196 aircraft. KLM announced this week that it was slashing 90 per cent of its flights.

Hong Kong Express, which is owned by Cathay Pacific, went even further. It cancelled all flights until the end of April.

These actions followed steep flight cuts by Cathay Pacific and European carriers such as Lufthansa and British Airways. Qantas, the Australian carrier, has cut all international flights, laid off 20,000 of its 30,000 workers and arranged Wednesday for $1 billion in additional credit by using seven of its widebody jets as collateral.

Even worse than this tsunami of flight suspensions and appeals for aid, the aviation industry will still face immense challenges, whether or not a treatment or a vaccine for the new coronavirus is found. It is widely expected that few corporations will have much money to spend to fly large numbers of their executives around the world in the expensive business class seats that provide major carriers with much of their profit.

Nor, whenever the crisis ends, will large numbers of tourists have money to spend on exotic holidays. This, in turn, will lead to far fewer hotel and resort bookings for major corporations and small businesses that have had to close down most of their operations.

Particularly hard hit will be cruise ships. They will suffer from a double whammy of fewer passengers with money to spend and, perhaps fatally, because several cruise ships ended up becoming huge incubators for the virus, helping to spread the disease around the world.

Matthew Fisher is an international affairs columnist and foreign correspondent who has worked abroad for 35 years. You can follow him on Twitter at @mfisheroverseas

Discover Myrtle Beach this spring with Porter Airlines

Provided by Porter Airlines/CNW

Porter Airlines introduces new entry-level fare category, expanding customer options (CNW Group/Porter Airlines Inc.)

TORONTO, Jan. 15, 2020 /CNW/ – Just in time for spring break, Porter Airlines is resuming seasonal service to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, beginning March 4. Flights operate twice weekly until May 17, 2020, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Porter offers the only non-stop flights from Canada.

In just 2.5 hours, travellers are transported to Myrtle Beach, where the weather is as warm as its southern hospitality. Boasting miles of beautiful coastline, stunning sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean, and an abundance of attractions, Myrtle Beach is the perfect destination for the entire family.

Myrtle Beach is also an elite golf destination offering more than 100 courses in the area to challenge all skill levels. Local courses are known for their playability and being impeccably maintained.

Porter Escapes offers inclusive packages for flights, accommodations and activities.

Connecting flights are available via Toronto from numerous Porter destinations. Complete schedule details are available at www.flyporter.com

Porter Airlines brings you to the Mont-Tremblant slopes in style

Provided by Porter Airlines/CNW

TORONTO, Dec. 5, 2019 /CNW/ – Porter Airlines resumes seasonal service between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Mont-Tremblant International Airport on Dec. 6. Flights are available until March 30, 2020, with service up to four times weekly. 

Reconnect with the joys of winter in Mont-Tremblant, Que., in as little as 70 minutes from downtown Toronto. Connecting flights are also available from numerous Porter locations in Canada and the U.S. 

Porter Airlines is reintroducing its annual winter service between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Mont Tremblant, Que. Flights operate from December 6, 2019, to March 30, 2020. (CNW Group/Porter Airlines)
Porter Airlines is reintroducing its annual winter service between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Mont Tremblant, Que. Flights operate from December 6, 2019, to March 30, 2020. (CNW Group/Porter Airlines)

Located in the heart of the Laurentians, Mont-Tremblant is home to some of the country’s best winter attractions. In addition to downhill skiing and snowboarding, winter in Tremblant offers an array of exhilarating outdoor activities such as dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. For those seeking a more relaxed pace, enjoy the serenity of a spa retreat, and dine or shop in the charming pedestrian village.

Visit Porter’s website for detailed flight schedulesPorter Escapes offers inclusive packages for flights, accommodations and activities, on and off the slopes.

Mont Tremblant International Airport (MTIA) is offering Porter passengers a special promotion on lift tickets this ski season. Passengers receive two free weekday ski lift tickets when they arrive on a Sunday or Monday and depart on a Thursday or Friday. For full details, visit www.mtia.ca

Flightdocs Opens New Office In Toronto, Canada to Better Serve General and Business Aviation Operators

Provided by Flightdocs/CNW

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla., Dec. 5, 2019 /CNW/ — Flightdocs, a leading provider of maintenance tracking, flight operations, and inventory management software solutions for flight departments around the world, is expanding its international footprint with the opening of a permanent office in Toronto, Canada.  “This expansion supports the Flightdocs’ strategic growth plan allowing for the strengthening of current customer relationships as well as expanding our global sales support coverage,” explained Rick Heine, CEO, Chairman.

Greg Heine, President of Flightdocs explains “the Canadian business aviation market has always been an important piece of our company’s long-term growth. Opening up a permanent location and bringing on experienced and motivated professionals allows us to focus our resources on existing customers while growing the Flightdocs brand within the country.”

As a Toronto native and licensed pilot, Alex Hess, National Sales Manager for Canada is looking forward to establishing Flightdocs as the premier service provider in Canada. “The product speaks for itself. Being able to bring a 21st century solution to Canadian operators opens the doors for expanded service and efficiencies. Being a fully cloud based solution with advanced and effective mobile capabilities positions Flightdocs as the best product for the unique and extensive needs of the Canadian business aviation market.”

The new Toronto office is conveniently located off Lake Shore Boulevard West and is within ten minutes of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) and the Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ).

Billy Bishop Airport to Convert Marilyn Bell I Airport Ferry to Electric-Power

Provided by PortsToronto/CNW

First of Its Kind in Canada, Electric-Powered Ferry Will Significantly Reduce Airport GHG Emissions and Noise Impacts

TORONTO, Nov. 28, 2019 /CNW/ – PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, is proud to announce that the airport’s Marilyn Bell I passenger/vehicle ferry will be converted to electric-power. This innovative retrofit represents a unique technological advancement in the airport’s fleet as the vessel will be the first 100 per cent electric lithium-ion powered ferry in service in Canada. PortsToronto anticipates that the ferry’s retrofit will be complete by the end of 2020.

PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, announced that the airport’s Marilyn Bell I ferry will be converted to electric-power, eliminating all related GHG emissions and significantly reducing noise impacts. (CNW Group/PortsToronto)
PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, announced that the airport’s Marilyn Bell I ferry will be converted to electric-power, eliminating all related GHG emissions and significantly reducing noise impacts. (CNW Group/PortsToronto)

The vessel’s propulsion system will be entirely powered by battery and fueled by 100 per cent Bullfrog Power® renewable electricity, enabling the electric-ferry to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the airport’s ferry operation. In addition to operating more efficiently and eliminating related air emissions, the retrofitted vessel will build on the airport’s award-winning Noise Management Program, as it will operate far more quietly, dramatically reducing related noise in the surrounding community.

As part of PortsToronto’s sustainability program, a phased approach to greening the airport’s ferry operations began in 2018 when the Marilyn Bell I was converted from diesel to bio-fuel, which resulted in the reduction of approximately 20 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions last year. The electric-powered ferry is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with ferry operations by 530 tonnes, dramatically reducing the airport’s carbon footprint and setting the organization on a clear path toward achieving PortsToronto’s overall emissions target.

“The retrofitting of the Marilyn Bell I to electric power clearly demonstrates how we can build a clean and efficient transportation system, create good jobs and protect the environment,” said the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport. “The Government of Canada commends PortsToronto for this initiative that will benefit Toronto communities and reduce our carbon footprint.”

“Converting the Billy Bishop Airport ferry to electric power is a clear indication of how serious we are in our commitment to the environment and maintaining balanced operations with the waterfront community in which we operate,” said Geoffrey Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, PortsToronto. “We are proud to invest in leading-edge, sustainable transportation infrastructure that will reduce PortsToronto’s overall emissions, which is a significant step toward our organization’s environmental objectives and in support of the Canadian Government’s 2030 emission reduction target.”

In compliance with PortsToronto’s Sustainable Procurement Policy, three Canadian companies that share PortsToronto’s vision for sustainable operations have been selected to collaborate on completing the ferry retrofit. As developers of the winning concept and proposal, St. Catharines-based leaders in marine electrical engineering Canal Marine & Industrial Inc. (CANAL) are the prime designers for this project. On board as the project naval architect is Concept Naval, Quebec-based naval architects and marine engineers, recognized for their innovative and customized solutions in Canada’s shipbuilding industry. PortsToronto has also engaged Nova Scotia-based E.Y.E marine consultants to assist with the implementation of the project.

“CANAL is proud to be delivering the first completely zero-emission Ro-Pax ferry in Canada,” said Shawn Balding, CANAL Commercial Director. “This is an important step in the evolution of the marine industry made possible by maturing advancements in energy storage and power and propulsion system design.”

The airport’s ferry operation not only transports passengers, airport staff and essential supplies to and from Billy Bishop Airport, but serves as a vital link for City of Toronto service vehicles to gain access to the Toronto Islands. The conversion of the airport ferry to electric-power is one of Billy Bishop Airport’s key capital projects and will cost approximately $2.9 million. This cost will be paid in full by PortsToronto through the Airport Improvement Fee. PortsToronto is a federal business enterprise that is financially self-sufficient and does not receive funding from any level of government.

The Marilyn Bell I is named for the Canadian icon who was the first person to cross Lake Ontario, and later the English Channel and Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Emergency Response Training Exercise to Take Place at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport the evening of October 19

Provided by PortsToronto/CNW

Simulation will involve sirens and emergency personnel onsite that may be visible to the public. Related activities will test security procedures at the airport.

TORONTO, Oct. 18, 2019 /CNW/ – Between 9:00 p.m. and midnight on October 19, 2019, PortsToronto will conduct an emergency training exercise at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

This routine full-scale training exercise is mandated by Transport Canada to test airport protocols, procedures, communications and planning for emergency and/or security related incidents. Exercises such as this are critical to ensuring that the airport maintains a high level of emergency response preparedness and involve multiple agencies including Toronto Fire, Toronto Police Services (and related Marine Units), Toronto Paramedic Services, NAV CANADA, as well as staff and officials from the various agencies, airport stakeholders and airlines that operate out of Billy Bishop Airport.

Throughout the evening of October 19, those visiting, viewing or passing by the airport may witness the scenario that has been developed to test emergency preparedness and may see:

  • Emergency vehicles and personnel in and around the airport, including the Toronto Police Marine Unit and Toronto Fire boats, fire trucks and the Hazardous Material Response Team;
  • Emergency sirens, flashing lights and/or simulated gunfire, and;
  • Volunteer actors from the Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute serving in various roles, including as passengers or employees who appear to be in distress.

Please be advised that this is an exercise only. There will be no impact on regular flight arrival and departure times.