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A Porter plane sits at Toronto's island airport. (Jim Ross/The Globe and Mail)
A Porter plane sits at Toronto's island airport. (Jim Ross/The Globe and Mail)

Transportation

Porter loses its airport monopoly Add to ...

At Toronto City Centre Airport, all runways lead to Robert Deluce.

The chief executive officer of fast-growing Porter Airlines Inc. said yesterday that the doors will swing open to rivals next year at the airport, located on an island near Toronto's downtown business core.

The twist is that any competitors seeking to be tenants will need to apply to the airport terminal's chief landlord - none other than Mr. Deluce.

The aviation veteran heads a private company, City Centre Terminal Corp., that is building a $50-million terminal at the airport, where Porter faces losing its monopoly on scheduled flights next fall.

"Porter will be the primary tenant because of the amount of activity that we have," he said in an interview, estimating that the airport will handle more than one million Porter passengers next year.

Launched three years ago, Porter has grown to employ more than 800 staff and now has 11 destinations in its regional network, expanding even during the recession.

Mr. Deluce said he knows the day will come when Porter must deal with rivals at the airport, so he reckons that the new 14,000-square-metre terminal might as well diversify its revenue stream and open itself up to other carriers on the hunt to lease check-in counters and other space.

He emphasized that the terminal is a separate entity from Porter, though they have the same parent company. "The terminal will certainly be receptive to expressions of interest from other parties who may choose to locate here," said Mr. Deluce, whose son, Michael, is Porter's executive vice-president and chief commercial officer.

Michael Deluce said the new terminal will have 10 gates for planes. U.S. customs preclearance is slated to be in place by the fall of 2010.

Last week, Continental Airlines Inc. complained that "there are currently no gates or other necessary facilities available to permit scheduled services by any U.S. or Canadian airline other than Porter."

Continental wants to offer Canada-U.S. service with Bombardier Q400s, the same type of aircraft operated by Porter. Privately owned Porter now has 16 of the turboprops, and plans to add two more by the end of November and another two by next April.

Air Canada Jazz is also seeking access to the airport. A terminal company controlled by Robert Deluce ousted Jazz from the site in February, 2006, but the Halifax-based regional carrier is keen to resume flights in 2010.

The Toronto Port Authority, a federal agency that oversees the airport, announced last month that it will be reviewing how to allocate remaining slots for takeoffs and landings. Porter is forecast to have 120 daily slots next spring, with 47 still up for grabs.

The terminal's first phase is set to open in January and another wing is scheduled for completion by September.

Mr. Deluce said he is welcoming applications from "prospective carriers and tenants" to use his spacious terminal, including Jazz, which held talks in 2006 to lease space from Stolport Corp., a property development firm at the island airport.

"The whole process of putting in infrastructure isn't something that can happen overnight," Mr. Deluce said.

 

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