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92 Comments

politics

Desperately Seeking Jets

Porter's insidious bid for Toronto's waterfront.

Now that Rob Ford has been forced to admit what he can no longer deny, the biggest lie in Toronto comes from the friendly folk at Porter Airlines. “Sale Ends Tomorrow!” my email proclaims at regular intervals. But it never does. The end of one seat sale at Porter is inevitably the beginning of another. The sale never ends.

Could there still be any air-travelling Torontonians who rush to Porter’s wickets today out of fear prices might rise tomorrow? As the boy who cried wolf discovered, returns on such claims diminish rapidly. Somebody should tell the marketers.

Porter could get a lot more attention if it declared “Airline Ends Tomorrow”—and that would be closer to the truth. Despite the company’s considerable success at revitalizing a previously moribund island airport, raising passenger volumes from basically nothing to more than two million a year, the evidence of crisis is increasingly clear.

It would likely be clear as glass if the privately held company ever again opened its books, as it did three years ago in a quickly aborted attempt to sell shares to the public. Bay Street took one look at the numbers and said, in so many words, “Are you joking?” That was the end of Porter’s experiment in financial transparency.

Porter founder and president Robert Deluce has since claimed his company is profitable, but he said the same thing before the attempted IPO, which revealed nothing but losses.

The company’s urgent campaign to introduce currently banned jets at the little airport is a better indication of the truth. When launching the airline, Deluce was emphatic that Porter could happily operate within the strict constraints governing use of the island airport. Jets were not only unnecessary for success, he claimed at the time, they were unwanted; they were noisy and wasteful. Porter’s business plan was based squarely on the claimed advantages of Bombardier’s Toronto-made Q400 propeller planes.

Most people would say he made it work, defying the naysayers (me included) with a tremendously popular service. Everybody but Robert Deluce, it would seem, who is now desperately trying to save himself from what looks awfully like a turboprop trap. It turns out that Porter can’t live without jets after all, and—just as the naysayers said—can’t succeed without major relief from constraints designed to limit the disruption jets cause.

There was more than a hint of desperation in Porter’s campaign as it unfolded this year, accompanied by masses of misleading propaganda, high-torque polling, lobbying, and petitioning. The company even took out radio ads urging its customers to intervene with local politicians. The urgency was all out of proportion to the logistical difficulty of the proposed changes, let alone their potential impact on the city. It was hardly the sort of thing you would expect from a successful business contemplating an orderly expansion.

City staff’s latest report, which urges a properly deliberate evaluation of the jet proposal, reveals just how far Porter overreached. To take the most notorious example, Deluce repeatedly claimed Bombardier’s CS100 was “the quietest jet in production” months before the new plane’s first flight, and who knows how long before the still-unknown date when it will actually enter production. But as the aviation experts consulted by the City reported this month, nobody knows how noisy it will be. The data will not be available till May 2014 at the earliest, City staff say.

But Porter is either unwilling or unable to wait even that long. In the face of a strong recommendation for caution from professional advisers, Deluce is urging council to take a flier on the most consequential city planning decision of the new century.

The urgency seems even stranger in view of the consultant’s advice that the new plane probably will prove quiet enough to operate from the island airport once it is tested. As with every issue it identifies—noise being only one—the City report points a way forward. Although properly cautious, it is basically positive, full of compliments for the airport and its newfound vitality.

But Porter has no patience for the long game. This is not TransCanada Corp., patiently fulfilling every regulatory and political requirement in its globally controversial quest to drain the tar sands south. This is aviation, the business that investment guru Warren Buffett recently described as “a death trap for investors,” one that “has eaten up capital over the past century like almost no other business.”

An astute capitalist visiting Kitty Hawk in 1903 would have done the world a favour by shooting Orville Wright out of the sky, according to the Oracle of Omaha.

But no such hero then existed, with the result that predicting the demise of yet another start-up airline a century later is as safe as forecasting snow in December. Several have met their end at the island airport over the decades.

Unfortunately for those of us who believe the central waterfront is no place for any airport of any kind, the demise of one more carrier is unlikely to change much. The planes might get a new livery, the ads a new mascot, but the airport will remain. The reason aviation has been able to destroy so much capital, Buffett pointed out, is “because people seem to keep coming back to it and putting fresh money in.”

Experience has more or less proven that aviation on the island is unsustainable under current regulations, as set out on the municipally fabled Tripartite Agreement of 1983 [PDF]. The latest evidence is Porter’s abrupt about-face on jets, which went from unnecessary yesterday to do-or-die today. But the airport will remain alive as long as the chance remains for some future buccaneer to catch the city in one of its regular Lastman/Ford-type stupors and blow the rules wide open.

The sky will be no limit then, and every resident, amenity, and green space on the waterfront will suffer. In the meantime, there is a killer sale on seats in an empty plane to Thunder Bay. Get ‘em while you can.

John Barber is a former newspaper columnist and sixth-generation Torontonian.

Comments

  • OgtheDim

    “An astute capitalist visiting Kitty Hawk in 1903 would have done the
    world a favour by shooting Orville Wright out of the sky, according to
    the Oracle of Omaha.”

    Cause, you know, the only way to judge something is as a product or a form of investment.

    (I realise this wasn’t your main point, but Buffet’s statement is part of a larger myopia about the utility of technology)

    • dsmithhfx

      “there is now no opportunity to use that technology in the city”

      People who fly small planes generally have the wherewithal to get to private airports, where said planes can be flown to and fro.

      • OgtheDim

        Everything can be done somewhere else by those who can afford it.

        That doesn’t mean it has to be banned for reasons more related to an application of the 18th century neo-classical understanding of pastoral paradise, as exemplified in our green deserts, then to building an urban understanding of pleasure.

        We are a 3 dimensional urban centre that exists on a waterfront. Time we embrace the 3rd dimension of height and the opportunities it provides, rather then attempting to maintain flat ideals.

        I love our tree canopy. It is one of the best parts of this city.

        But we have more space above it then below.

        And, no, I’m not talking about a ferris wheel.

        • rich1299

          Even if Porter folds there’s nothing suggesting recreational or other small fliers will stop using the island airport. Even The Toronto Island Pilots Assn., the group representing recreational and small business pilots at the island airport also support the continuing ban on jets there, see http://www.nojetsto.ca/private-pilots-jets-waterfront/ . From what I’ve read elsewhere they’d be very happy to see Porter die off since Porter now monopolizes this public space and has been pushing others out (no link, can’t remember where I read it).

          Personally I’d like to see the airport gone completely but I’m not opposed to it remaining as a recreational airport with only recreational fliers and small businesses like sight seeing flights, flight schools, and the like permitted to use it since that would be fulfilling its function as park land. Yes the island airport is designated park land not industrial or airport land. The only reason the island airport was ever built there was because the surrounding city became heavily industrialized and was no longer really suitable for parks.

      • OpportKnocks

        However, for private Toronto pilots there are fewer and fewer options. Buttonville is closing and Porter is aggressively making the island a more difficult place for others to fly out of.

        • dsmithhfx

          There needs to be a replacement for Buttonville. Porter’s behavior is hardly an endorsement of their schemes. Maybe the island airport should revert to being for private planes only (and maybe air taxis), without regular airline service.

    • tomwest

      “just because Porter is losing money does not mean that a turbo prop commercial service out of the airport can not [sic] be profitable”
      Then why isn’t Porter profitable? Or do you think they choose not to be?

      • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

        They certainly will not be profitable in the current year with the amount of advertising they have spent in every Toronto newspaper, and on radio, and free giveaways, and it goes on and on.

      • OgtheDim

        I think they chose to expand when they could consolidate. DeLuce was trying to do an IPO and get there with flashy “see us, we are growing” stuff. Now he’s a bit stuck.

        An privately held airlne concentrating on Montreal, Ottawa and Newark would do fine.

    • andrew97

      In the past year I’ve flown to Boston, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh for business. I flew to Boston on Porter, but Air Canada is the only (non-stop) game in town for the other two. Fares to Cleveland and Pittsburgh were 50% higher than Boston (on either Porter or AC), despite those routes being far shorter.

      If Porter is running a perma-sale and losing money, it’s not because their business is inherently unprofitable. It’s because Air Canada is happy to run certain routes at a loss (and soak travelers on other routes) in order to drive Porter out of business. AC’s tactics make me want to see Porter succeed.

  • Tuzanor

    TL;DR Anti-island airport writer is still anti-island airport, despite it’s obvious success and benefits.

  • Steve Munro

    Yes, flight exists as a technology and those trees can look oh so wonderful from above. That does not justify the massive changes required to accommodate people on the ground going to and from the airport. That issue has only recently emerged thanks to a long-time focus on the noise of the jets which is, if anything, a lesser problem than ground-level effects both on the island and the mainland.

    By analogy, automobiles have been around for roughly the same length of time, and there was a period in our history where paving over any obstacle (or “opportunity” as some would regard them) could be justified by the self-evident right of any motorist to get from “A” to “B”. To hell with whatever stood in the way.

    We have spent billions to make the waterfront attractive and encourage new development, but now we should just throw that away because Bob Deluce needs a bigger airport and the capacity to bring more passengers to his planes?

    This debate is not about technology. It’s about the warping of public policy to serve private good at the expense of the larger and longer term effects on the city.

    • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

      You’ve lost me. What are the “massive changes required”—do you mean the tunnel? Isn’t the tunnel supposed to be better than the formerly proposed bridge? How—everyone states this as if it is self-evident, and never bothers to spell it out—will the runway extension or new aircraft “throw [billions] away”, or discourage new development? What are the “larger and longer term effects on the city”?

      I am eager to have someone explain & quantify the possible or probably downsides of the expansion, so I can think about them; but all I ever see are tautologies.

      • Steve Munro

        The issue is not the tunnel. It is the landside transportation capacity required to get people to that tunnel. If lower Bathurst is completely reconfigured to be primarily a way to deposit autos (a lot of taxis) at the airport’s door, this will tip the neighbourhood firmly to being one of car orientation and away from the pedestrian character that attracts people to live there. It’s not a tautology. It’s a simple fact that the existing infrastructure cannot handle the existing peak demand let alone a doubling of airport travellers.

        • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

          Thanks for clarifying. I’ve read the “Transportation” section on page 25 of the report, and it seems there are other options.

          Can’t the city simply make its approval conditional on Porter/TPA funding whichever of these best aligns with the Official Plan?

          • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

            Hello! The TPA has already stated that they will not be spending a dime on any of these Transportation options. It’s the City that would be on the hook for upwards of $300 million which would be better spent on a DRL and helping more Torontonians than the downtown Bay Street repeat business travellers that primarily use Porter Air.

        • andrew97

          Gee, it sure would be nice if there were a rsil solution to the airport. And there iisone –

          • rich1299

            I think the biggest problem with the Union-Pearson link is how little it sets out to achieve. Its only going to provide service for those either flying business or on vacations but no for the thousands of employees at Pearson. It has the potential to be a desperately needed rapid transit line up through Weston and the city’s northwest corner. But the way its set up it would be far too expensive (I’ve heard around $30 per trip) to use as daily rapid transit besides which there will only be stops at Bloor and Weston. This could, and still may one day be, the western line of the DRL.

          • OpportKnocks

            The 1000s of employees will take the TTC for $3.00, just like they do now. I use the 58 Malton bus when I go for short business trips and it is fairly fast and frequent. Perhaps GTAA will work out a bulk rate for employee passes with MetroLinx when the business class service proves to be a bust.

            The western leg of the DRL will never go that far, The plan from the 1970′s was to extend the Eglinton line to Pearson and there is a dedicated right of way on the north side from Jane Street all the way out. That is still the best option, but Mel Lastman and Mike Harris set that option back 20 years when they cancelled the project in favour of Sheppard.

          • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

            If affordable airport access were really a priority, the Eglinton LRT could also be extended to Pearson. Now that is much less likely to happen, merely because it would cannibalize traffic from the U-P link.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            There’s literally nothing stopping Pearson or its employee management from producing an employee pass for severely discounted (if not free) use of the UP for the (I suspect) minority of employees who commute from downtown.

      • Dogma

        It would be nice to have that conversation, Paul. It would be nice if Porter put some tangible data up on its information website explaining what its goals for the airport are, how much it sees the use of the airport expanding, how it envisions the physical expansion of the site impacting water use around the island, what the difference in traffic counts will be?

        How will this expansion compare to the use expansion we’ve already seen?

        What does it envision the airport looking like in 10 or 20 years under a fully utilized use plan? In other words, what’s the end game?

        Porter has to know this information, but it’s not providing it. Occasionally we see some stories where they discuss asking for more slots to increase air traffic, but that’s about all we get.

        But its information website focuses on telling us how we’re wrong to be concerned, and that opponents are simply trying to shut the airport down.

        The city, of course, should also be procuring this information and presenting it to us. With a delayed decision perhaps they’ll do that and we can have that informed conversation that I think we would both like to have.

        • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

          These are all good questions. In particular the one about the vision for the future of the airport requires a public conversation—it’s not up to one company to supply it.

          You’re absolutely right that this information needs to be forthcoming, and if it’s going to cost a lot for the city to procure the necessary studies, Porter should pay its share. A delayed decision is definitely the way to go.

          But if Porter, Rob Ford or Norm Kelly have been in an unseemly hurry to get this approved, others are in an unseemly hurry to have it rejected out of hand. That’s the only reason I can see for advancing the extreme, unsubstantiated claim that the changes would destroy the waterfront.

          • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

            Maybe you should go to NoJetsTO website and see their claims and the sources to their claims. And then you will be forced to take back your claim of unsubstantiated claims. If anyone has unsubstantiated claims, it’s Porter Airlines.

          • OgtheDim

            Or maybe we could all wait for somebody unbaised to look at it all, before we rush into anything?

      • hgushee

        If you are in a hurry, read just the second last paragraph of the Staff report: http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-64318.pdf

        • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

          On p.28? Yes, it enumerates the unknowns.

          My problem is that opponents of the proposal seem to already know the answers, know that the answers are bad, and are in a hurry to see the proposal rejected. That’s also premature.

          • hgushee

            Opponents to the airport aside, the Staff report to the City did not say to reject the proposal. Their (City staff’s) problem is that back in the spring the Executive Committee agreed to study a proposal from Porter to grow their own (Porter’s) business. But that is not what the City needs to evaluate: the City needs to study growth of the airport as a whole (a request that should properly come from the Toronto Port Authority, with an airport Master Plan). The City also needs to study the consequences to the City of growth of the airport (growth largely driven by Porter at the present). Consequently the Executive Committee should have — in response to the Porter request — asked for the Toronto Port Authority to submit an airport growth proposal, in reaction to its primary tenant (Porter’s) desire to grow.
            Done the way it has been done does not allow the City to properly study the impact of Porter’s growth from the City’s point of view. And if you look at the Porter Proposal this is clear: what it asks for is what Porter wants, but it contains no discussion of how the consequences to the City would be planned for, never mind paid for.
            This leads in one of three directions: 1) the Porter Proposal fails, 2) more study is requested on the City’s terms of reference, or 3) the City ignores its staff recommendation and goes ahead. This third path would be extremely expensive to the City, just to meet the demands of Porter’s growth, and would still not resolve the overall question of how to manage airport growth driven by other demands.

          • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

            Well said. #2 would, I think, be best.

          • hgushee

            That’s what we have: the staff report recommends more study, requests a Master Airport Plan from the TPA, and refers to the City’s Master Plan. That’s as much of a start on #2 as the terms of reference of the Porter Proposal permitted.

          • rich1299

            This opponent to the island airport is definitely worried about what might be even if I don’t know for certain what it will be or what the exact probabilities are anything will happen beyond the known impacts of flying jets and increasing traffic to the area. Not just from this one expansion for Porter’s benefit but from everything else in the future that will result from opening the island airport up to jets and expansion now.

            I’m also opposed because I do know how valuable it is to have prime park land in the heart of the city for citizens to relax, tourists to visit, to hold large public events, and for small businesses to thrive and the negative effect jets can have on that. I used to work at Pearson, there’s a good reason why no one spends any more time than absolutely essential anywhere near it.

            As well I do know for sure that I don’t trust any corporation to be concerned with the best interests of the city or its citizens. After all under the law the only thing they can be concerned about is making profits and nothing else. The island airport is designated public park land so why should one private corporation be able to monopolize it? At least if it reverted to an airport for recreational fliers and small business like sight seeing, flight schools, and the like it would once again be fulfilling its mandate as public parkland.

      • OpportKnocks

        Massive changes mean that there will need to be:
        a) an above grade jet fuel tank farm, most likely on the adjacent parkland since there has to be a regulatory set back from the runways.
        b) a parking structure on the edge of the water, where the demolished silos are now, to accomodate additional staff and travellers.

        c) road widenings to accomodate buses, taxis and more private vehicle traffic
        d) expanded customs and security facilities, as the proposed destinations are in the Caribean and USA
        e) a larger noise wall on the south side of the airport
        f) likely a second E/W runway.

        The TPA has been asked to produce a master plan based on the full impact of the expansion, but have not. Why you might ask? Because if the full impact was known the project would die instantly.

        They want the city to approve the renegotiation of the agreement first, then spring this on us a little bit at a time.

        • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

          “Likely a second E/W runway”?!

          • OpportKnocks

            If safety regulations demand it, yes.

          • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

            Please explain how they would.

          • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

            Stop being so obtuse and read the City report recommending a deferral.

          • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

            I’m fine with the deferral. I’ve read the report, and there is not a word about a second runway. The argumentum ad hominem I received instead of the credible reference I asked for suggests the idea is entirely fabricated.

        • sol_chrom

          If the TPA and/or Porter have ever been motivated by anything other than their own interests, I’d love to see the evidence of it.

    • OgtheDim

      Please do not assume that support for the airport’s existence equals support for DeLuce and Porter.

      They do not.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      ” That does not justify the massive changes required to accommodate people on the ground going to and from the airport.”

      You mean like the Union-Pearson rail link?

  • OpportKnocks

    The Porter expansion of BBTCA will be “Death by 1000 Jets” (to paraphrase an ancient chinese practice) for many activities on the waterfront. Concerts at the Molson Amphitheatre or the Music Garden? Forget it. The quality of picnics on the island or swimming on Hanlan’s beach? Lets go somewhere else where we do not have the fumes from jets and the fuel tank farm.

    Deluce says now that only a modest increase in the number of takeoff and landing slots is contemplated, however everyone knows that that will be the next step. The physical infrastructure needed to support more flight traffic, to the levels where Porter is profitable, is simply not practical. For it to happen will mean degrading the entire recreational, environmental and cultural experience for the millions who use it now. The taxpayer will pay both ways, increased infrastucture costs to prop up Porter and loss of the public investment that has already been made.

    The loss of property values (and tax assessment base) close to the airport will be many more times the increase in value to Porter. That also means that the rest of us pay more.

    There is no need for council to authorize more studies, kill this insanity now.

    • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

      The current, turboprop aircraft burn jet fuel.

      • OpportKnocks

        The CS100 jets are 2x as heavy and will burn much more fuel on takeoff and landing, plus more will be needed for the longer 5hr flights. Currently fuel is brought in by tandem tanker truck 4x daily, past the front of an elementary school and onto the ferry. How many more will jets require?
        http://youtu.be/cb7uICbxXjk

        • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

          I don’t know—how many? More importantly, how many is too many?

          Is it a problem that four trucks a day go “past the front of an elementary school”? If so, we should talk about restricting it to three—right? Or if not, why mention it?

          • OpportKnocks

            Are you being obtuse on purpose? Jets will likely mean at least double the number of fuel trucks, but know one knows for sure since all Porter yaps about is how quiet the CS100 jet is. (it sure is when tested empty). The secondary point of this video is to point out the massive hole in island airport security.

          • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

            I’ve ridden that ferry, and yes, one could walk onto it with a suitcase full of C4. That doesn’t mean one could get airside or into an aircraft. We could also go videotape the kiss & ride at Pearson T1 and caption “NONE OF THESE VEHICLES HAD ANY KIND OF SECURITY SEARCH!!!”—but that does not a “massive security hole” make. Irrelevant hyperbole.

            What is the issue with the fuel trucks, exactly? Do you feel that more trucks = less safe?

            If the issue is safety, the approach is not to haggle over the number of trucks. The approach (as with all transport safety) is to define a standard of safety, and ask what’s necessary to meet it, or what level of activity is compatible with the standard. I don’t see why eight (to use your guess) trucks would be drastically less safe than four.

            If the issue is annoyance, you’re welcome to find a sponsor for a new bylaw setting a fixed cap on the number of such trucks daily. You can explain to councillors why the cap must be six, or four, or two, or whatever.

          • OpportKnocks

            The point is, that at major international airports (which this is proposed to become), the passengers and jet fuel do not arrive through the same entrance.
            Also, there cannot be a cap on the trucks without a cap on the number of flights, I trust you can figure out why.
            How close it the closest elementary school to the Pearson fuel delivery entrance? (the other side of 401)

          • brianyyz

            Yes he is. Trolls will troll.

  • brianyyz

    Porter is desperate. Once the airport link is up and running they are even more toast then they already are. There is no business reason to have such commercial service downtown, and the rush to jets does smell of JetA desperation to stave off the inevitable.

    • OgtheDim

      You are assuming that people will spend $20 to take a train from Union to Pearson. Frankly, I have my doubts. I would also not assume that most people who currently use the Island for Commercial reasons live downtown. Its currently easier to get to the Island from much of Scarborough then it it to get to Pearson.

      There is a convenience factor involved in Porter that is impossible to deny.

      Doesn’t justify DeLuce getting a monopoly on commercial travel there though.

      • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

        Travellers to BBTCA have no problem paying $20 or more to get to YTZ, so your argument does not hold. The UP Express kills the convenience argument for Porter.

        • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

          I travel through BBTCA and I always take the Bathurst streetcar or the free shuttle to Union, because I *do* have a problem with paying anything more than TTC fare to get there.

          Why would I pay $30+ and waste more of my time to travel to Pearson and stand in its longer security lines?

          • dsmithhfx

            Because your destination isn’t served by Porter?

          • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

            I thought we were discussing preferences between ground transport to Pearson and ground transport to BBTCA. If there’s no flight from BBTCA, that decision doesn’t come up.

          • brianyyz

            Funny—the longest lines I have had were at YTZ. The NEXUS line was closed, so had to stand with the unwashed.

            If you fly often, you are not standing in long lines at Pearson: You have Status and NEXUS.

        • http://www.leschinskidesign.com/contact/addme picard102

          Then you lack a basic understanding of why people chose to use the Island Airport.

      • rich1299

        The Union Pearson link will also have stops at Weston and Bloor at Dundas West station. I think it will me more convenient for more Pearson customers than you think. It will be useless for everyone else though, it could’ve been a desperately needed rapid transit line through the west end, Weston, and the northwest corner of the city if it had been built as an LRT with many more stops than the two existing ones. I’m sure it wouldn’t be that difficult to get LRT trains modified to have luggage areas for travelers.

      • tomwest

        People pay more than $20 for a taxi. UPExpress will be quicker and more reliable, so people will pay $20 for it.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        $20 (last I heard it was to be $30+) is less than $60-$70 for a taxi, so yes, it’s asafe bet people will pay it. But this only enters into the equation if Porter and a Pearson-based carrier are able to take you to the same destination at the same price.

    • rich1299

      I don’t see why Porter doesn’t start flying jets out of Pearson. People like their company and jets with longer flight capabilities would be a business asset for them but its not like the island airport is the only place they can fly from.

      • tomwest

        Because they aren’t allowed to!

        • OpportKnocks

          What is preventing then from applying for landing and take off slots like every other airline?

          • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

            The fact that Porter would not be getting the big freebie it currently gets at BBTCA, that’s why. It’s about greed for Deluce, not more vacation locations for fliers.

  • OpportKnocks

    When Deluce says “Porter is profitable” he means Porter is profitable for him. He and his family members still collect a salary, regardless of performance.

    I also understand that he has learned from his previous experience with the Canada 3000 bankruptcy and structured the company as a series of holding companies so that when the inevitable happens, he will still have control of many of the hard assets.

    By inevitable I mean: “On November 8, 2001 the company [Canada 3000] suddenly collapsed with no warning for travelers or employees. The company filed for bankruptcy, citing a downturn in air travel during the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The fleet was left grounded at various airports around the world, leaving 50,000 vacationers stranded.”

  • OgtheDim

    I wish we could ignore that, but the discussion of Porter is almost always linked to the existence of the Island airport.

  • Andres Fontana

    Rob Ford is so fat he needs Jets to carry him.
    SqueezeFord.ca is the only way to go.

  • Kevin Brown

    Wasn’t John Barber fired from the Globe & Mail for calling Rob Ford a “fat f*ck”?

    This poorly written article explains why Barber hasn’t found full-time employment with another media outlet and is stuck doing freelance work.

    I would bet that Porter Airlines has a brighter future than John Barber.

    As for the emails from Porter advertising seat sales I get those as well. They come regularly along with emails from Air Canada and WestJet offering seat sales. Every Airline does this. It is not a sign of “desperation” . I doubt if Robert Deluce is feeling “desperation” – if anyone is feeling desperate it must be John Barber after years without a steady paycheck (after he f*cked up at city hall).

    The FACT is city staff had all the information that they need to make a decision NOW on whether to amend the tripartite agreement to allow turbo-fan aircraft in addition to the PropJet Q400′s already serving the Island Airport.

    Deluce wasn’t lying when he said months ago that the CSeries is the quietest airliner in its class. This is an undeniable fact. Just ask any aviation expert.

    City staff were not being “properly deliberate” when they suggested that a decision be postponed until March 2015. They were playing politics by proposing a decision be postponed until after the next election when I suspect they hope Olivia Chow will be the mayor and she will shut the airport down. I think that the deputy city manager who signed his name to that report should be fired along with the other city staffers who have been playing politics with this issue such as Dr. McKeown who recommended that the airport be turned over to “healthy” uses such as a public park.

    • the_lemur

      Barber was fired from the Globe, but it had nothing to do with the incident with Ford.

    • OgtheDim

      “Deluce wasn’t lying when he said months ago that the CSeries is the
      quietest airliner in its class. This is an undeniable fact. Just ask any
      aviation expert.”

      Given the government hasn’t signed off on that, I’d say your definition of deniable is…deniable.

    • selonmoi

      Says the guy who clearly hasn’t read the staff report.

  • Matthew L

    Great article, John.

    For the record, I have flown Porter twice and have always been satisfied by the lounge and flight experience. Funny you mention the never-ending seat sale which I too have noticed. Every time I visit the Porter website there is a seat sale. “Last day to book with discounted prices.” Go back the next day and it’s been extended another two weeks.

    I recall an article from the Financial Post reckoning that a) Porter is not in the greatest financial state, and b) that Porter’s expansion plans are really an attempt to get purchased by WestJet who seek to level the playing field with Air Canada.

    Regarding the expansion, I think a key problem with Porter’s PR campaign is that the airline disproportionately serves business clients over the family and leisure markets. It appeals to the suits on Bay Street and until families are looking to Windsor, Moncton or Washington DC for their March Breaks I don’t think much will change that impression. The few vacation markets they do fly to – notably Mount Tremblant and Vermont – cater to the Forest Hill, empty-nester set.

    • Kevin Brown

      Why would a “key problem” of Porter be that that it disproportionately serves business clients? Business travelers are the most lucrative end of the business. They travel frequently and often at the last minute meaning that they pay full fare. Time is money to business travelers and for someone working downtown – flying with Porter cuts an hour off the commute to New York or Montreal.

      • Doug Earl

        I think he means in terms of garnering widespread public support for the airport expansion. That’s my read.

  • Kevin Brown

    While it is true that we don’ know how profitable Porter is there is no reason to believe that they are losing money on current operations.

    Porter has many advantages over Air Canada and Westjet.

    1) landing fees are much lower at Billy Bishop compared to Pearson

    2) Porter’s labor costs are lower than the legacy Airlines

    3) For the current routes which are short in length the Q400 is the perfect match.
    Very economical with a lower cost per seat than a 737 or A320

    4) Convenient downtown location gives Porter big edge over Air Canada and WestJet

    5) Contrary to what this know-nothing failed writer – John Barber says – Porter does not “need” “jets” to be successful on the routes that they service. If the CSeries is approved by city council Porter will not be replacing Q400 with CSeries turbo-fans on routes such as Ottawa and Montreal – in fact with their proposal they are looking to purchase more Q400′s.

    6) Porter wants to purchase the long-range CSeries since it is the only way to grow their operations from Billy Bishop because they are restricted on the number of take-off and landing they can make each day. Introducing longer range aircraft with more seats is the logical way to expand within the current constraints.

    • sol_chrom

      Jesus, Kevin, did Barber hurt you in your childhood or something? It’s almost as if you can’t post a comment without going out of your way to lash out at him.

  • John Istheman

    Problem with Toronto politic today is that opinions are formed then defended with enormous emotion BEFORE the meeting has even occurred!

    That is simple not productive.

    Porter rushed with ads.
    NOJetToronto rushed with campaign

    Unless planes can meet the laws then the answer is simple. If the sound does not increase acceptable levels then Toronto benefits from increased traffic and increase source of revenue.

    Until then silence is golden.

    • OpportKnocks

      John, based on the lack of awareness demonstrated in your post, I suggest you take your own advice. If you think that this is just about noise you have already sipped to much Porter Koolaid. Read the neutral background reports.first.
      PS – skip the work of fiction produced by the TPA that says BBTCA generates 1.9 billion in economic activity.

      • John Istheman
        • OpportKnocks

          Okay good, you have found it and read it. Pop Quiz.
          1, What parts of the proposal by Porter has Transport Canada aviation authorities signed off on?
          2. What % of the ground side infrastructure improvements has the TPA agreed to pay?

          • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

            The answer to both is NONE!

        • John Istheman

          I agree!!

          I was very impressed with http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2013.EX36.7

          Surprised even.

          In my business, if I do not have 100% of the facts I do not commit to anything. If it takes too long or the opportunity is not profitable, even intrinsic value.

          What disturbs me is greatly is

          1. how both sides are trying to close the deal months before the details needed to make a proper decision are available

          2. How campaigns such as Porters and NOJETSTO are misleading the public

          3. Media is playing games with fact and details. Like 12 year who teases another boy.

    • OgtheDim

      Do Not feed the troll.

      • dsmithhfx

        Which one?

      • John Istheman

        aahhh silence. Anyways == who the hell is James. Its been bugging me for 24 hours?

  • dsmithhfx

    “Barber’s argument is an ad hominum on the financials of Porter and is completely irrelevant. It is just sophistry.”

    No, sorry, Porter’s financials and lack of transparency are central to DeLuce’s motivations in pushing for the expansion, for the unending, phony “seat sales”, and his desperation to ram through Council approval ASAP, damn the torpedoes (and god forbid there should be an environmental review first). It is you who have resorted to ad hominems in dismissing Barber’s entirely valid thesis.

  • John Istheman

    A review of this document gave me pause. On the surface it seems to clearly say that further use and even current use of this area could pose a threat to health.

    A second read shows a different story.

    - A RAPID Health Impact Assessment (dithering, leaving open the conclusion they could be wrong)

    - public and especially some in the communities near the BBTCA have expressed concern that the airport’s current operations may be harmful to health (people who’s property values are risked)

    -Traffic conditions, which increase the risk of injuries or fatalities and hamper access to recreational, health, and community services in the area are expected to worsen with expansion (yes. Add more traffic risks increase, certainly not higher than during 2 weeks of the CNE)

    -The current vision in the City’s Official Plan for the Central Waterfront as a densely populated, vibrant area that celebrates and provides connections
    Health Impacts Associated with Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Expansion
    to the lakefront aligns with the characteristics of a Healthy City. Optimal protection and enhancement of the health of Central Waterfront residents and the city as a whole calls for a reduction of current and future airport impacts. (clearly someone is setting their agenda and taking sides. This has nothing to do with health)

    Financial Impact There are no financial implications arising from the adoption of this report. (WHATTTTT Maybe in dreamland. Either way this paper calls for relocation of airport!!)

    This document scares me!! Wow. A lesson in creative writing.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Freight trains frequently pass through Rosedale and Summerhill; the rumbling can be felt, and the trains heard, several blocks away. That isn’t a perfect comparison, but this part is quite apt: people moved to their condos by the Inner Harbour and their homes in Rosedale long after the planes and trains started passing through.

  • grant

    You have no evidence to prove that Porter is losing money. In fact, all evidence seem to point that it is making money. Growth, the capital infrastructure investments, the purchase of more turboprops, the opening of new routes.

    • dsmithhfx

      By the same token, we have no evidence Porter is making money, rather than spending other people’s (taxpayers, investors) money.

  • Jeffrey Poulin

    Some of the stuff in this article is made up to make a story. The author is only guessing at the value in Porter’s books. And even at that, he is missing the point: Porter is intnt on devleoping an Exit Strategy and this is but the tip of that iceberg. You only need to understand what they did to Jack Austin’s AIrways in TImmins upon buying it out to get an idea of where they are headed with this. The value in Porter Airlines’ affairs all has to do with The Exit Strategy. In this case, get them jets landing here and flip it out. Use it as one giant kickstart to the wild blue offshore.

    Beware the trap. Any deal made today will be forgotten history when Porter’s new owners from Taipei or Dakkha swashbuckle their way into Toronto and its Islands, thinking they’ve got carte blanche when the money shot has already be taken, developed and laundered.