Porter Air buying praise from Globe & Star?

Having spent bundles on advertising in the newspapers, one might suspect Porter has also purchased editorial praise for surviving 5 years at hefty taxpayer expense

By Brian Iler –

We’ve all read the Globe’s and Star’s so-puffy pieces on the occasion of Porter’s fifth anniversary.

Most readers would conclude that these were, in part, the newspapers’ expression of sincere appreciation for the millions of dollars of ad revenue Porter has given to them over those years.

What else accounts for their studious avoidance of any reporting of facts that interfere with the narrative?

They could have mentioned the massive subsidies the federal government, and its agency, the Toronto Port Authority, have provided.

Here’s a start at a list:

•    Exclusive rights for commercial passenger service for most of the last five years, and now, with Air Canada all but locked out, virtual exclusivity,.

•    All the start-up seed money Porter needed in that suspicious $20 million of federal taxpayers’ money paid as “compensation” for the cancellation of the bridge. Calculation of that “compensation” was based upon the basis that without the bridge, only 120 landings and takeoffs (known as “slots”) per day would occur, not the 167 with the bridge, and the Porter “losses” compensated for were based on that reduction of business. But now, Porter has 172 slots.

•    Massive taxpayer dollars to fund Porter’s aircraft purchases. From Porter’s ill-fated 2010 IPO we learned that 16 of its then 20 aircraft were financed by loans of $283 million from the Harper government’s Export Development Corporation – with the string attached that those aircraft were to be used 60% for transborder flights. Porter hasn’t come anywhere close. Worse, these loans are long term, and at surprising low interest rates: a weighted average rate of 4.92%, maturing between September 2021 and December 2024.

•    Two new ferries and terminals for $20 million of public funds – one purchased by the Toronto Port Authority with its board’s deciding vote cast by Colin Watson, an acknowledged “friend” of Mr. Deluce, contrary to the TPA’s own Code of Conduct.

•    The TPA has consistently refused to pay its fair share of property taxes to our cash-strapped City – by our tally, based upon City and TPA documents, about $43 million. See our letter to Mayor Ford last March, attached, which he failed to respond to.

It’s not that those newspapers didn’t know – we’ve consistently issued press release after press release, documenting all of this.

And they could have asked Mr. Deluce why he repeatedly misled them about Porter’s profitability: although the media dutifully reported his claims to profitability – and have done so again in these stories – the IPO disclosed losses of $44,505,000 to March 31, 201• See the press release they ignored, attached. Surely, until Mr. Deluce releases actual financial results, any statement by him about profitability of his businesses must not be given any credibility.

Not a mention of how Porter’s short-haul flights are the worst culprits when it comes to greenhouse gases, when we all know that such emissions have to be significantly reduced.

And nothing about the extreme impact Porter’s operations are having on nearby residents. Here’s one recent report:

“They have no idea what Porter has done to our neighbourhood!  I try so hard to sleep past about 6:25 a.m., when the [Porter aircraft] run-ups go into high, but rarely accomplish that, even now that it’s not light then.

The overnight noise curfew at the Island Airport ends at 6:45 a.m.

And another:

“This is now the fourth evening that we are getting ready to eat supper and the entire neighbourhood stinks of jet fuel. Not a very nice atmosphere to eat. We already are bombarded by the noise, so please give us a break and keep the jet fuel out of our air.”

By choosing the pursuit of the bottom line, these newspapers have abandoned our City, and our waterfront communities.

Iler is chairman of CommunityAIR