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Porter Hikes Rents as much as 300 %

Kip Powick

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Porter Airlines hikes rents at Billy Bishop airport by up to 300%

Porter Airlines has hiked the rent for occupants of its hangars and office space in Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, leaving some tenants scrambling to meet the higher costs and forcing small business operations to consider moving.

Porter owns some facilities on the government-owned land and rents out hangars and office space to private citizens as well as aircraft businesses and flying schools.

Between 25 and 30 of these tenants were informed in December that rent was being increased, effective as early as February 1.

No monetary figures were provided by Porter, but several tenants contacted by the Toronto Star — all of whom did not want to be identified in case the hike could be renegotiated — said the increase ranged from 30 to 300 per cent. They say the amount could jeopardize business and force them out of the airport.

Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines, said Tuesday that Porter needed to put rental rates in line with those at comparable airports and that the airline is aiming to minimize the effect on tenants.

“We’re just doing our best to work with each and every tenant to try and find a solution and try to be as understanding as possible in terms of any impact on their business,” he said, adding he’s set up one-on-one meetings with tenants.

It’s the first time the rental agreements have been revised in five years and during that time improvements to the facilities have been made while taxes and utility costs have gone up, Deluce said.

“Porter has absorbed these costs to date, but tenancies as they relate to anything from office space to hangar rental space . . . now need to be revamped and better reflect what market rates are out there.”

Two sources told the Star that the airport’s two flying schools — Island Air Flight School and Canadian Flyers International — had been issued termination notices.

While Deluce acknowledged that the flight schools “could not be accommodated in their current form,” he said arrangements are still in the process of being made for the schools to either move to another airport or another space, still at Billy Bishop, with a new landlord.

Representatives from both flight schools declined to comment Tuesday.

Deluce said Porter recognizes the price may now be too high for some tenants and is aiming to help some who wish to move with the transition to another airport, naming alternatives in Brampton, Oshawa, Tillsonburg and Barrie.

While much of the criticism toward Porter centred around the increases being two or three times the original amount, Deluce said some tenants were not paying much to begin with, including some who were paying nothing.

Responding to criticism that Porter was aiming to force some tenants out, Deluce acknowledged that there are numerous prospective tenants who have expressed interest in renting space at the island airport. But he said the rent increase was not intended to make space for Porter or other airlines before accommodating tenants who are already there.

“We feel certain empathy and loyalty to those who are already here,” he said.


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