TORONTO, Dec. 22, 2016 /CNW/ - The ability to clear U.S. Customs at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is one step closer to becoming reality with President Obama having signed into law a bill ratifying the new preclearance agreement between Canada and the United States. The signing of the new law was commemorated earlier today by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, at Burlington International Airport as the first Porter Airlines flight of the season arrived. The law is part of an effort to make travel between the two countries more convenient for travellers while also further enhancing bilateral trade relations and reinforcing national security.
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport was among the Canadian transportation facilities named in an expanded U.S. Customs Preclearance program in March 2016. The announcement, which also included Quebec City's Jean Lesage Airport, came as part of Prime Minister Trudeau's first official visit to the U.S. to attend meetings with President Obama.
"PortsToronto and partners at the airport have been working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and teams at Transport Canada, Public Safety and International Trade to establish U.S. Preclearance at the airport and we are very pleased that the bill has been signed into law," said Geoffrey Wilson, CEO PortsToronto, the owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. "U.S. Preclearance will provide easier access to the U.S. for our passengers and, as such, is important as a means of further enhancing the customer service experience at our airport. We look forward to engaging with Canadian officials to continue discussions related to implementing a U.S. Customs Preclearance facility at Billy Bishop Airport and realizing the opportunities that exist in the areas of efficiency, customer service, trade relations and security."
As the sixth busiest Canadian airport servicing the U.S., Billy Bishop Airport is a critical gateway that will benefit from U.S. Preclearance. Currently, more than 400,000 passengers travel to the U.S. each year from Billy Bishop Airport. U.S. Preclearance also presents the ability to service U.S. markets more broadly and creates opportunity to add new markets within the existing slot structure and allocation at Billy Bishop Airport.
With the new preclearance agreement between Canada and the U.S. now ratified by the U.S., next steps include ratification of the agreement by Canada and working out the specific costs and operating environment at Billy Bishop Airport. It is anticipated once a Terms of Operations Agreement is entered into between U.S. CBP and PortsToronto, it will take about one year to open the U.S. Preclearance Facility. The construction plans to upgrade the passenger terminal at Billy Bishop Airport announced in October do include a preclearance facility.
About Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
Billy Bishop Airport is Canada's ninth-busiest airport and welcomed 2.7 million business and leisure travellers this year. The airport is also Canada's sixth-busiest airport with passenger service into the United States. Offering service to more than 20 cities in Canada and the U.S., with connection opportunities to more than 80 international destinations via our airlines' networks, Billy Bishop Airport is an important international gateway and a key driver to Toronto's economy, accounting for more than $2.1 billion in economic output each year and supporting 6,500 jobs, including 1,960 directly associated with the airport operations. The airport has recently won a series of passenger-driven awards, including being named one of the top airports in North America in both the Airports Council International's (ACI) 2015 Airport Service Quality Awards and Skytrax 2016 World Airport Awards and was ranked fourth Best International Airport by Condé Nast Traveler.
About PortsToronto (http://www.portstoronto.com)
For more than 100 years PortsToronto 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. PortsToronto 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. PortsToronto is committed to fostering strong, healthy and sustainable communities and has invested more than $9 million since 2009 in charitable initiatives and environmental programs that benefit communities along Toronto's waterfront and beyond. PortsToronto operates in accordance with the Canada Marine Act and is guided by a nine-member board with representation from all three levels of government.
For further information: Media Contact: Sarah Sutton, Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations, PortsToronto, (647) 298-0544, [email protected]