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New Report by Richard Florida Confirms Benefits of Downtown Airports


Toronto (January 24, 2023) – A centrally located, city airport is critical to Toronto’s continued growth and ambitions, states a new report published by PortsToronto and authored by respected urbanist and University of Toronto Professor, Dr. Richard Florida. The report, titled, Toronto’s Downtown Airport: A Powerful Economic Asset in the City’s Urban Core, notes that city airports, like Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, support businesses, provide connectivity and unlock opportunities that make a city world class. These airports also have a key role in building knowledge economies, playing a critical role in the circulation of people and ideas.

The report comes at a time when both Toronto and its downtown airport are at an inflection point. Both are emerging from the pandemic, and as thought goes into what the needs of Toronto will be in the coming decades, consideration should also be given to the role Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport can play in building the global city that Toronto aspires to be.

“Billy Bishop is central to Toronto’s prosperity,” states Dr. Richard Florida. “It brings tourists and much needed revenue to the city and its urban core, which are still recovering from the pandemic,” he adds. “More importantly, it provides a direct gateway to leading cities such as New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Chicago, bolstering Toronto’s role as a global talent and tech hub.”

The report is available here and highlights the numerous benefits that Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport brings to Toronto, including:

  • Providing the city with a unique competitive advantage, placing travellers close to the downtown commercial centre and its cultural amenities — threatened as they are by the shift to remote work and decreased office occupancy.
  • Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is among the largest providers of good, high-paying blue-collar jobs for city residents and workers – jobs that are otherwise declining and in increasingly short supply. Airports also generate significant demand for local services, which in turn create more and better jobs for lower-paid service workers in surrounding retail establishments, hotels, and office facilities.
  • Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is projected to have added roughly $3 billion dollars to Toronto’s economy in 2022, up from $2.1 billion in 2019, and an amount which is expected to grow to nearly $4.8 billion by 2025.
  • According to a 2022 survey, 85 per cent of Toronto residents “agree” that “Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a valuable asset for the entire city”. A majority of Torontonians also agreed that Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a good use of land (82%); that it makes sense to have an airport downtown (85%); and that the airport plays a central role for business, health care, and job creation for the city (78%).

Additional Quotes

RJ Steenstra, President & CEO PortsToronto, Owner and Operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
By all metrics, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is an asset and a vital piece of transportation infrastructure that can propel the City of Toronto forward. More specifically, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a key economic driver; a creator of jobs, a connector of people and businesses; an enabler of tourism; a provider of vital healthcare through Ornge; and a good neighbour, making investments in sustainability and community. The City of Toronto is at an inflection point where it needs to shake-off the pandemic declines, and re-entrench itself as a world-class city. Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is on a similar journey and is eager to work with the City of Toronto and the Federal Government on a future vision for the airport.

Dr. Richard Florida, Professor of Economic Analysis and Policy, Rotman School of Management; Co-founder of CityLab; and Founder of the Creative Class Group
There are few better symbols of Toronto’s aspirations as an economically and socially diverse global city than having a leading-edge, environmentally sustainable airport that fits seamlessly into the waterfront and serves as a vital anchor for its vibrant downtown. Both the city and the airport are at an inflection point in terms of optimizing infrastructure and making the intellectual investment to be world-class. The airport is an undeniable asset to the City of Toronto and region and should be regarded as such. This means demonstrating the leadership and vision to recognize the impact the airport already makes in terms of economic gain, connectivity, support of healthcare and driver of tourism and trade; but also to take action to secure and optimize the future potential of this airport to embrace new technology, enhanced sustainability and balanced growth. Downtown airports are valuable assets to any city in any part of the world. Toronto is fortunate to have had a downtown airport for the last 80+ years, and should be looking at ensuring it is here for the next 80 years or more to support what this city should and can be.

Neil Pakey, President and CEO, Nieuport Aviation, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Terminal Owner and Operator
A cleaner, greener, quieter downtown airport is an exciting part of Toronto’s future as a global city. Now, with the release of the Richard Florida Report, we begin the important task of mapping out that future for Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. For many years YTZ has been of critical importance to the City in particular when considering its’ rising economic impact. It gives our customers a convenient, easy and friendly airport experience from the heart of the city, and inbound visitors to Toronto an incredible first impression of the City. This report confirms that having a downtown airport, with its simple and quick access to everything in Toronto is a competitive advantage that should continue to be celebrated. Now is the time to lock in Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport’s future as a world-class downtown airport and as a gateway for a world-class city.

Stephen Lund, CEO, Toronto Global
The importance of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to the Toronto Region economy and value proposition cannot be overstated,” said Stephen Lund, CEO, Toronto Global. “Downtown airports provide cities with unique competitive advantages, enabling connections with other leading global centres, and our downtown airport offers unmatched connectivity with the centre of Canada’s business and financial hub. As we compete with cities like New York, London and San Francisco for global talent and high tech business, air connectivity is a critical part of this equation.

About Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Toronto City Airport

Offering service to more than 20 cities in Canada and the U.S., with connection opportunities to more than 80 international destinations via our airlines’ networks, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is an important international gateway and a key driver to Toronto’s economy, generating more than $2.1 billion in total economic output and supporting 4,740 jobs, including 2,080 directly associated with the airport operations and facilitating healthcare for Ontarians by providing a base for medevac services connected to local hospitals.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is renowned for its unique travel experience, efficiency and customer service and has won a series of passenger-driven awards. With a focus on cleaner, greener and quieter operations, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has made significant upgrades in recent years to achieve its sustainability goals, which are reported on an annual basis. Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is owned and operated by PortsToronto.

About PortsToronto

For more than 100 years PortsToronto has worked with its partners at the federal, provincial and municipal levels to enhance the economic growth of the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. PortsToronto owns and operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which welcomed approximately 2.8 million passengers in 2019; the Outer Harbour Marina, one of Canada’s largest freshwater marinas; and the marine Port of Toronto that includes businesses in a variety of sectors including marine shipping, cargo services, media production and passenger cruises. PortsToronto is committed to fostering strong, healthy and sustainable communities and has invested more than $14 million since 2009 in charitable initiatives and environmental programs that benefit communities along Toronto’s waterfront and beyond. PortsToronto operates in accordance with the Canada Marine Act and is guided by a board with representation from all three levels of government.


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