COPA President/CEO Kevin Psutka and Director Paul Hayes met with Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Manager of Airside Operations Pat Fagnano in April 2010 regarding concerns that GA was being forced off the island airport due to increased airline slots and expansion of the ramp area to accommodate airline activity.
COPA suggested space on the south side of the airport could be developed for a GA ramp and hangars. COPA came away from that meeting with assurances that while changes were necessary for increased airline activity, GA would still be welcome and encouraged at the airport, however it was stated that there was no intention to expand GA facilities at the airport.
Earlier this year and, without consultation, landing fee increases were introduced and penalties imposed to curtail GA flights during certain hours at the airport. COPA concerns expressed at the April meeting were now confirmed.
Since that time, COPA has been trying to help the airport develop a solution that meets its needs and encourages GA to continue to use the airport. Foremost on the list was the need for a meeting with stakeholders to discuss the fees and restrictions.
A meeting was finally held on May 9, to provide a briefing on airport’s progress, GA activities and community noise concerns. COPA asked that the above mentioned concerns also be addressed at the meeting.
COPA is appreciative of the airport’s efforts in holding such a meeting but continues to emphasize the importance the airport has to GA especially with Buttonville airport’s recent announcement it will close in the not too distant future.
“With the impending closure of Buttonville airport in three to five years, hundreds of aircraft owners are looking for alternatives. There is a golden opportunity now for your airport to attract aircraft owners to your airport if the will is there to provide facilities. I encourage the airport management to develop a plan for accommodating more GA aircraft. I stand ready to assist in this regard,” said COPA President/CEO Kevin Psutka in a letter addressed to the Manager of Airside Operations Pat Fagnano.
Another concerned stated in the letter refers to floatplane access. “The condition of the ramp and docks has been a perennial issue. I have been following the dialogue leading to the removal of the NOTAM and commitment to repairs. This is encouraging news but the situation would never have deteriorated to this point had there been a solid dialogue with users, some of whom have offered to help. Floatplane access to the airport is important, both for convenience and safety,” Psutka said.
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a gem. It is ideally located to serve GA and its role has become even more important given the pending closure of Buttonville. COPA encourages dialogue with stakeholders to continue with a view to fulfilling the Tripartite Agreement’s role for the airport, which states that it “shall continue to be maintained and operated as a permanent public airport available for general aviation, and from the time of receipt of a request from the Minister, available for limited commercial STOL service.”