Air Canada to fly from Toronto island airport

Mon Oct 4, 2010 6:09pm EDT
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Air Canada will resume flights from the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport in February, the country's biggest airline said on Monday, initially offering service to Montreal.

Air Canada said it will offer passengers up to 15 daily non-stop flights from the airport, which is located on an island minutes from Toronto's downtown core, to Trudeau International Airport in Montreal.

Flights will be operated by Sky Regional Airlines Inc, which was chosen following a competitive bid process, Air Canada said in a statement. Air Canada flew out of the Toronto city airport until 2006 using its regional carrier Jazz Air LP.

Porter Airlines, a small, privately owned regional carrier, currently has a monopoly on flights out of the airport, which has become popular with business travelers because of its proximity to the business district. Toronto's main Pearson International Airport can be a 45-minute drive from the city center.

Air Canada said it is in talks with the airport terminal owner, City Center Terminal Corp, about an agreement to lease terminal facilities.

Flights will be operated with Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft. Air Canada intends to lease five of the planes.

Air Canada lost a court bid this summer against the Toronto Port Authority, the federal agency that owns and operates the island airport, and Porter Airlines to get additional flying slots at Billy Bishop.

The TPA announced in June that Porter had secured 44 of 90 new slots, Air Canada 30 and U.S.-based Continental Airlines Inc 16. Air Canada had argued in court that the allocation process was flawed.

Air Canada's stock ended down 5 Canadian cents, or 1.8 percent, at C$2.80 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday. Jazz was up 12 Canadian cents, or 2.6 percent, at C$4.72.

The news was released after the market had closed.

(Reporting by Nicole Mordant; editing by Rob Wilson)