PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, is looking for an investor from the private sector to take the reins of downtown Toronto's island airport as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to batter the air travel industry.
Issuing a Request For Interest (RFI) on Tuesday (March 30), PortsToronto, in a release, called their initiative a "preliminary step" and "exploratory," adding that it is intended to "inform a comprehensive study of possible options available" to support the airport as a critical transportation asset.
The government agency is looking for an investor that will help reduce the airport's debt, restore and enhance liquidity, restore and enhance liquidity and ensure the airport’s long-term viability.
“It is incumbent upon PortsToronto – as owner and operator of Billy Bishop Airport – to explore options to manage risk and enhance liquidity in a manner that allows PortsToronto to fulfil its mandate, support Toronto’s economy, and ensure that the airport continues to serve as an asset,” said Robert Poirier, chair, PortsToronto. “This RFI will inform a strategic evaluation of opportunities regarding the airport by effectively extending the existing and successful P3 structure we already have in place with several key concessions at the airport."
"Importantly, PortsToronto will remain the signatory to the Tripartite Agreement, with the City of Toronto and the federal government, and as such will retain oversight of the airport and maintain control over such areas as slots, safety and environmental sustainability.”
Should PortsToronto choose to pursue this concept further, the process will progress to a Request for Proposal (RFP) later this year in consultation with the City of Toronto and the federal government including Transport Canada.
“The last year has had a profound impact on many businesses and has necessitated innovative approaches to overcome the challenges at present and in future. 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,” said Geoffrey Wilson, CEO, PortsToronto.
Wilson added that PortsToronto is taking steps to identify options that, when combined with future government support, will ensure a well-funded future for Billy Bishop.
“Billy Bishop Airport will have a vital role to play in the economic recovery of Toronto – including as a creator of jobs and a facilitator of trade and tourism – and this preliminary step will ideally identify the means necessary to ensure the airport can play a stronger role in Toronto’s re-emergence as a world-class city following this pandemic," he said.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Billy Bishop, which has earned several airport awards and recognitions, offered service to more than 20 cities in Canada and the U.S., with connections to more than 80 international destinations.
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