TORONTO - It may come a little late for the summer travel season, but Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport will resume commercial airline service starting September 8.
The news means that travellers may once again board a flight to/from the downtown core to select Canadian and US destinations. Starting September 8, Porter Airlines will take to the skies and offer flights to/from Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Thunder Bay.
The airline is scheduled to phase in other destinations including Halifax, St. John’s, and Sudbury on later dates. Flights headed to/from US destinations such as New York, Boston and Chicago are scheduled to depart on September 17.
The news is welcome relief for travellers and employees at the airport. In March of 2020, PortsToronto, owner and operator of the city’s island airport, temporarily suspended service due to Covid-19.
Prior to the pandemic, nearly 2.8 million passengers passed through the airport on an annual basis.
Airport operations supported approximately 4,700 jobs and generated $470 million in GDP. The phased-in resumption of service comes after nearly 18 months of closures due to travel restrictions and concerns for public health.
Amid the shutdown, the airport remained open to ensure key services like Ornge air ambulance could continue providing service to those in need.
The impacts of the pandemic have severely affected the travel and tourism trade in Canada. As case counts improve and vaccination rates increase, the further easing of restrictions are positive signs for a rebound in the industry.
“Billy Bishop Airport will play a significant role in the economic recovery of our city and province”, said Geoffrey Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of PortsToronto, in a press release. “We are excited to ramp up our operations and get back to the business of connecting travellers to the people, places, experiences and jobs they love”, he added.
The past 16 months have not been easy for the airline. Just last week, Porter Aviation Holdings Inc., parent company of Porter Airlines, reached an agreement with the Federal Government for loans up to $270.5 million. Part of that sum, $20.5 million, is dedicated to passenger refunds for cancelled flights during the pandemic.
For now, non-essential travel restrictions remain in place between Canada and the US until at least July 21.
As Canada begins to loosen rigid travel restrictions, it will be a little easier for Canadians to get around.
Fully-vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents returning to Canada no longer need to observe the 14-day quarantine upon arrival.