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If the Niagara region gets its way, Porter Airlines could soon be offering Toronto’s suburban commuters the option of flying to work.
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Alan Caslin, chairman of the Niagara regional council, recently met with Porter CEO Bob Deluce and pitched him on the idea of making the Niagara District Airport into the airline’s “service centre and aircraft parking lot.”
“Not only that, but there’s an interesting twist here,” Caslin said in an interview. “The twist is that if you did in fact use Niagara District Airport as an overnight parking lot, the first flight in the morning could be a commuter flight to Toronto Island.”
Caslin argues that this would appeal to a lot of commuters who are tired of dealing with the clogged highways in the Greater Toronto Area.
“If you know anything about the traffic that come into Toronto from Niagara, from Hamilton and surrounding areas, you know that it would be shorter to drive from Hamilton or even Burlington down to Niagara and take an eight-minute flight (to downtown Toronto),” he said.
It takes about an hour and forty minutes to drive from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto.
Porter spokesman Brad Cicero said the airline has met with the airport to discuss the proposal.
“It’s something that we do on a regular basis; usually airports are interested in having these discussions and we are generally open to it,” Cicero said in an email.
“We don’t have plans to begin any new routes at the moment, though. … There may be other opportunities in the future.”
Porter currently does maintenance work in Sudbury, Ont.
The Niagara District Airport, located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is asking travellers to fill out a survey on its website about whether they’d be interested in scheduled flights to Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport.
Caslin said the region is touching base with Porter on a regular basis and the airline’s CEO seemed to be “very much” open to the idea.
The Niagara region has seen a surge in home sales as prices in Toronto and its suburbs push people further and further out. The provincial government has also hinted that the area could get year-round Go Transit train service to Toronto as early as 2018.