Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Celebrates 75 years of Connecting Travellers to the World

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TORONTO, Sept. 8, 2014 /CNW/ - 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.

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.


Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA) Historic Milestones

July 1937 Toronto City Council gives approval to begin construction on what was then called Port George VI Island Airport
February 4, 1939 Arrival of first private aviation plane at the airport piloted by H.F. McLean of Montreal
Spring 1939 Terminal A passenger building completed
September 8, 1939  Arrival of first commercial passenger flight carrying Tommy Dorsey and his swing band
1940 - 1943 Airport used as a training facility for the Royal Canadian and Norwegian Air Forces
1953 Grand opening of the new Control Tower
1962 Airport improvements made - a new runway, new hangar and night-time landing lights are completed
1980 Medevac flights expand dramatically. In 1980, 471 Medevac flights were recorded, compared with 182 in 1979 and only 92 in 1978.
June 1983 50-year Tripartite Agreement signed between the Government of Canada, City of Toronto and Toronto Harbour Commission
1989 Airport celebrates 50 years of operations; Terminal A listed as a historic building
2009 TPA announces renaming of the airport to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, after Canadian First World War flying ace William Avery "Billy" Bishop
2010 Construction begins on BBTCA pedestrian tunnel; Terminal A decommissioned; new Terminal  opened
2012 TPA constructs first of two noise barriers at BBTCA
2013 Excavation of pedestrian tunnel is completed
April 2014 TPA announces agreement in principle to repair, restore and re-open the historic Terminal A building as a public space
September 2014 BBTCA celebrates its 75th anniversary


SOURCE: Toronto Port Authority

For further information:

Media Contact: 
Erin Mikaluk
Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations
Toronto Port Authority
Tel: (416) 863-2065 or Cell: (647) 298-0544 

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