Air Canada announces its first flights from the Island; Porter CEO “pleased”

Air Canada announces its first flights from the Island; Porter CEO “pleased”

The battle for the hearts and minds (and wallets) of Toronto’s travellers continues. The latest chapter in the throwdown between Air Canada and Porter Air began last night as Air Canada officially announced it will be flying out of Billy Bishop City Airport (a.k.a. the Island Airport) for the first time since the carrier’s Jazz airline was booted off the island in 2006.

The Toronto Sun reports:

Air Canada executive vice-president Ben Smith said in the statement that the plans “mark solid progress as we work to develop a unique product tailored to meet the diverse needs of travelers between Canada’s two largest cities. Our customers have told us they want an airport option close to downtown Toronto to complement our Rapidair service which offers flights up to every 30 minutes at peak times.”

Porter CEO Robert Deluce said he was “pleased that other carriers are now coming on board,” adding, “We’re not going anywhere. We’ll continue growing and we’ll help to provide a competitive alternative for others.”

Toronto Port Authority spokesman Suzanna Birchwood said the agreement was part of the plan “to give other carriers the opportunity to fly out because the airport is a really great asset to Toronto.”

When Air Canada returns to the Island in February, it will start by offering flights to Montreal up to 15 times a day. Presumably, if that route does well, the airline will try to expand its services, though it will still have to contend with the much larger number of flights Porter can offer from the Island. In July, Air Canada lost a court case that was trying to open up the number of slots that Porter was given.

No word on what other destinations Air Canada might be considering, or, more importantly, whether it will serve free booze like Porter does. Still, if anyone is thinking about travelling to Montreal in February—and who isn’t?—we have four words for you: warm coat, price war.

• Air Canada to fly out of island airport [Toronto Sun]
• Air Canada to start Toronto Island flights in 2011 [CBC News]
• Air Canada returns to Toronto City Airport with Sky Regional flights [National Post]
• Air Canada sets Toronto island departure [Globe and Mail]
• Air Canada To Start Flying Out Of Island Airport In Feb. [CityNews]