Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What now Mr. Mayor?

REGCO, the regional airline championed by Robert Deluce, is one large step closer to reality with the announcement of 10 firm orders for Bombardier Q400 70 seat turboprop aircraft. The airline's plan is still to operate from Toronto City Centre, where at present only private flights operate with the exception of a single Air Canada route to Ottawa operated by 37 seat Bombardier Q100s, which are approximately 150 kilometres per hour slower than the Q400.

This order, valued at $500m but which with the usual discounting will net to substantially less, is good news for local workers who build the Q400 and who pleaded with City Council not to reverse the decision to build the bridge, a decision which David Miller would cost $2 but has so far cost the Feds $35m.

Whether REGCO will be a success is anyone's guess. There is scope for traffic to Ottawa for bureaucrats and business types but beyond that it's hard to say. However I do admire that he is bothering to try, given the viciousness of the campaign waged against him and the Island Airport/Toronto Port Authority over the last few years. I do wonder whether the election of anti-airport NDP MPs Peggy Nash and Olivia Chow and Liberal blow-in Michael Ignatieff (hey, I'm a blow-in so I know one when I see one) had anything to do with REGCO's timing, perhaps that they felt if they didn't move now the NDP would demand the abolition of the TPA from the Tories as the price of one of the Tories' electoral priorities, and inheriting a hamstrung airport the City Council would immediately move to close it. To close a piece of infrastructure which has been around since 1939 would be criminal, especially given the recent success of London City Airport which has operated with a proper consultative committee and stringent noise regulations.
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