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Toronto (September 8, 2014) – On this day 75 years ago, the first commercial passenger aircraft arrived at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA), heralding what would be a long tradition of providing Torontonians and visitors alike with a convenient, customer-orientated international gateway to the world.
Owned and operated by the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has established itself as a world-class airport since that first commercial flight landed on September 8, 1939, carrying American bandleader Tommy Dorsey and his swing band, who came to perform at the Canadian National Exhibition. Throughout its history, the airport has served as an important commercial aviation centre, a training ground for both the Royal Canadian and Royal Norwegian Air Forces during World War I, a hub for General Aviation and Medevac services, and as a key driver of Toronto’s economy.
Originally named Port George VI Island Airport, but known colloquially as Toronto Island Airport, the facility was re-named Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport in 2009. Today, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a success story. Considered by nine out of 10 Torontonians who participated in an August 2014 Ipsos Reid survey as a “valuable asset to the City,” BBTCA is now the ninth busiest airport in Canada serving more than 2.3 million passengers each year travelling to and from 18 destinations in Canada and the United States. The airport also continues to be a driver of Toronto’s economy accounting for $1.9 billion in economic output and 1,700 jobs which can be directly associated with operations.
“From its beginnings, 75 years ago today, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has been about providing a much-needed and valued service to Torontonians and visitors to our city. Whether as a base for air force operations or as an international gateway transporting business and leisure travellers to where they need to go, the airport has established itself as an important gateway,” said Geoffrey Wilson, President and CEO of the Toronto Port Authority. “We have accomplished a great deal over the past three quarters of a century and have watched as the neighbourhood has grown up around us. We remain committed to working closely with the growing local community, and continuing to strike the right balance in our activities.”
In celebration of BBTCA’s 75th anniversary, the TPA is providing the public with a look back at the airport’s history through a photo exhibit and timeline that has been installed in the Passenger Ferry Terminals on the mainland and island. Videos, photographs and historical information will also be posted to TPA’s website available here
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TORONTO PORT AUTHORITY (www.torontoport.com)
For more than 100 years the Toronto Port Authority 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. The Toronto Port Authority owns and operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which welcomes more than two million passengers each year; the Outer Harbour Marina, one of Canada’s largest freshwater marinas; and, Terminals 51 and 52, which provide transportation, distribution, storage and container services to businesses at the Port of Toronto. The Toronto Port Authority is committed to fostering strong, healthy and sustainable communities and has invested more than $5.6 million since 2009 in charitable initiatives and environmental programs that benefit communities along Toronto’s waterfront and beyond. TPA operates in accordance with the Canada Marine Act and is guided by a nine-member board with representation from all three levels of government.
Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations
Toronto Port Authority