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PortsToronto begins process to seek private sector investor to operate Billy Bishop Airport

Last Updated Apr 1, 2021 at 2:21 pm EDT

Sign for Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. CITYNEWS

With its flights currently grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PortsToronto, the owner and operator of Billy Bishop Airport, has begun the process of looking for a private sector investor to operate the airport.

The agency released a Request For Interest on Tuesday, which aims to find a financial investor interested in taking over operations of the airport under a lease.

As per a news release on their website, the move is an attempt to reduce PortsToronto’s debt, “restore and enhance liquidity; enable ongoing and future infrastructure investment; and ensure the airport’s long-term viability.”

“This initiative is exploratory and is intended to inform a comprehensive study of possible options available to PortsToronto to support the airport as a critical transportation asset,” the release stated.

The potential investor would also have to be willing to maintain PortsToronto’s commitment that the growth of the airport is managed in a way that ensures balance within the community and continues with plans to make Billy Bishop one of the cleanest, greenest and quietest airports in the world.

CityNews reached out to the City of Toronto, and councillor Joe Cressy, who represents the ward that includes the airport, but did not receive a response to inquires about the potential of a private sector entity taking over operations.

If a deal is struck, PortsToronto would remain the signatory on the existing agreement with the City of Toronto and the federal government, retaining oversight of the airport and maintaining control over area such as slots, safety and environmental sustainability.”

Geoffrey Wilson, CEO of Ports Toronto said the pandemic over the last year has impacted many businesses adversely and has made it necessary to look into this option.

“We believe that undertaking a process now that may provide options for PortsToronto to secure a financial investor will enable the airport to come out of the COVID-19 crisis stronger,” he said.

If the agency decides to move forward with the concept, next steps will include a Request for Proposal later in the year, in consultation with the city and the federal government including Transport Canada.

With files from The Canadian Press