It's what Hamilton airport supporters have dreaded for years.
On Tuesday, Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who represents the riding of Whitby-Oshawa and looks after the GTA for the Tories, stood up at an announcement east of Toronto and said it's time to start planning for the long-mothballed Pickering Airport.
This despite the fact that Toronto Pearson is nowhere near capacity and Hamilton's Airport has, according to the Hamilton Spectator, seen passenger volumes actually fall instead of increasing.
In a story in today's Star, York University business professor Fred Lazar calls the Pickering Airport concept "a dumb idea."
I could be wrong, but isn't most of the growth in the Toronto area still to the west, out around Brampton and Milton and Mississauga, more than Pickering and Ajax and Oshawa? If so, wouldn't a boost to Hamilton's lagging airport make more sense from a geographic standpoint?
I think Pickering has a major chance of being Toronto's Mirabel, the Montreal airport that was built out on the sticks to take pressure off Dorval Airport (now Trudeau Airport). It never, pardon the pun, took off. It's now only for cargo and was a colossal waste of money.
In a story in the Spectator, Ron Foxcroft, chairperson of TradePort International Corporation, which manages Hamilton's airport under a long-term lease with the city, initially was quoted as calling Pickering "a waste of money when we have the infrastructure right here in Hamilton."
With details, however, he agreed "it makes sense" to start planning for the new field now — as long as that planning includes honest consultation with aviation industry players such as Hamilton.
"We've been assured that Pickering will only be developed after consultation with all the other southern Ontario airports and when they are at their capacity," he said. "The key is after consultation and when we are at capacity."
Despite those assurances, Foxcroft said supporters of John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport remain "concerned" about the potential impact of the Pickering proposal on Hamilton.
"Of course we are concerned about this announcement. It comes as a shock in the sense that there appears to have been no consultation, which frankly has not been the case with this government in past," Mayor Bob Bratina said in an email exchange.
"Council has made the development of the Hamilton airport one of the key elements in our long-term economic growth strategy, so we hope that we won't see a diversion of scarce resources to this new facility at a time when John C. Munro is on the threshold of becoming the regional alternative to Pearson," he added.A 2011 federal study said southern Ontario's existing network of airports, including Hamilton, will reach capacity sometime between 2027 and 2037, and planning and building a new field could take at least 10 years.
Although it has an enviable reputation as a cargo airport, Hamilton has long struggled to attract and keep regular passenger service, the Spectator reported. "For a few years it was WestJet's eastern hub and handled 1 million passengers a year, but WestJet moved to Pearson and passenger volumes have dwindled," the paper said.
So why would anyone think it would be at capacity in 2027 when there's still plenty of room at Pearson, the more popular option? And at a time when the Canadian economy is still in the relative doldrums?
Oh, I forgot, Hamilton isn't next to Jim Flaherty's riding...
AIR CANADA SALE (OF SORTS)
I got a note from Air Canada today, launching what it calls a Discover America sale. The savings are said to be for flights booked by June 14.
Just for fun I went online and looked for a ticket for a trip from Toronto to Los Angeles in July, from a Wednesday to a Wednesday. The cheapest seats I saw were for a combined, return fare of $579.
I found a Toronto to Vancouver round trip, also July 17 to July 24, for $522.
Pretty sad that that counts as a sale, folks.
JAUNT.CA DEAL OF THE DAY
Jaunt.ca, a division of Torstar, has a deal today for a cool, eight-day trip to Colombia, priced at $2,864, including $65 in taxes.
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Standard Hotel Accommodations:
Superior Hotel Accommodations:
For Other DATES or option with International FLIGHT, Call us at 1-855-687-5925.
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