Candidate’s promise could eventually take load off Pearson Airport in Mississauga


Published July 21, 2022 at 4:29 pm

pearson airport air traffic control

It’s a long way from coming to fruition, and likely a longshot, but a campaign promise from federal Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre could help ease the air travel load off of Pearson Airport in Mississauga.

The Ottawa MP said today (July 21) that if elected prime minister down the road, he would make changes to Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto that would allow large, long-haul passenger jets to use that lakefront facility.

He said a Poilievre government would “remove gatekeepers and open the skies to competition” by approving a proposal that would eventually lead to extending the runway at Billy Bishop.

Similar plans in the past have met with opposition, and failed.

In a press release, the Conservative leadership hopeful said something must be done to alleviate the pressure on Pearson Airport.

For months now, Canada’s biggest air travel hub has been plagued with various staffing and other issues that have led to cancelled flights, lost luggage, huge lineups and a general atmosphere, at times, of chaos.

The Mississauga-based airport, and others across Canada and North America, have had difficulties because they didn’t anticipate so many people would return to air travel so quickly after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted earlier this year.

“Travel at Pearson is a mess right now,” Poilievre said in the press release. “There could have been way more flights out of Billy Bishop Airport…meaning more competition and more choice, but the dreadful gatekeepers wouldn’t let it happen.

“Look at Pearson. It’s a zoo over there. Why don’t we have competition for longer-haul flights?”

Poilievre said that as prime minister, he would direct his transport minister to take the necessary action to “open the skies to competition,” encouraging Porter Airlines to put a Billy Bishop expansion proposal back on the table.

Currently, only turboprop aircraft are permitted to land at Billy Bishop.

In 2015, the federal government, under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, dismissed a proposal by Porter Airlines, which operates out of Billy Bishop, that would amend the 1983 Tripartite Agreement prohibiting runway expansions and jets unless all parties agree.

At the time, Porter wanted to expand the runway by about 200 metres so that jets could fly passengers to further destinations including Vancouver, Los Angeles and the Caribbean.

Billy Bishop, located on the Toronto Island, currently offers flights to more than 20 cities in Canada and the United States. It transports about 2.8 million passengers per year and is operated by PortsToronto.

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