POLITICS

Porter not obligated to buy jets if they're not as quiet as promised: CEO

06/21/2013 05:07 EDT | Updated 08/21/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Porter Airlines is confident the CS100 aircraft on which the airline has built its expansion plan will prove to be as quiet, if not quieter than what Bombardier has promised.

But if it isn't, Porter isn't locked into the agreement, CEO Robert Deluce said Friday.

"If the aircraft doesn't meet the specs that we have been given by Bombardier, very simple — we don't want their airplane," Deluce said during a speech at the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

"My guess is they're going to bring an airplane that performs better than they've guaranteed, because we have some performance penalties and guarantees in our contract."

Porter Airlines has asked the city, Transport Canada and the Toronto Port Authority to amend a tripartite agreement that prevents jets from using Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport except under special circumstances.

The expansion plans will also require Porter to extend the island's runway by 168 metres at both ends, a process that will involve filling in part of the lake, so it can fly its new fleet of jets.

Porter has already placed a conditional order for 12 CS100 aircraft, with 18 options, worth about US$2.08 billion. The greater range of the CS100 will allow the airline to fly to destinations like Los Angeles, Florida, Calgary and the Caribbean from Toronto.

Deluce says Bombardier's Cseries is expected to come in at 85.7 decibels. That's within one decibel of the Q400 turboprop that Porter currently operates, which comes in at 85 decibels.

The new aircraft is also supposed to burn 20 per cent less fuel than any other jet in its class.

But critics point out that the aircraft has not been flown yet, so the promises about noise are merely projections.

The CS100 is expected to make its maiden flight within the next 10 days.

"It's flying very soon," said Deluce. "That will help us get a better handle on what we're dealing with."

Porter's plan has stirred vocal opposition from community leaders and several Toronto city councillors, whose concerns include disruptions to boating activities and increased traffic along the waterfront.

"This is all still so vague," said Anshul Kapoor, a spokesman for No Jets T.O., a community group that opposes Porter's proposal.

"The City of Toronto had a plan for revitalizing the waterfront and, from our perspective, the Porter plans don't mesh with it," Kapoor said.

Toronto council recently voted 29-15 to have staff conduct a study on how the proposal would impact the surrounding environment. That study is slated to be completed this summer.

If Porter's plan is approved, the first new planes are expected to be delivered in 2016.

Deluce also brushed off speculation that the goal of Porter's expansion plan is to solicit a takeover bid from another airline.

"We have no discussions going on with WestJet or any other carrier," said Deluce.