Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (IATA: YTZ, ICAO: CYTZ), commonly known as the Toronto Island Airport, is a small airport located on the Toronto Islands in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is named after Air Marshal Billy Bishop, a Canadian World War I flying ace. The airport is used by civil aviation, air ambulances, and regional airlines using turboprop planes. It is accessed by passenger ferry. In 2011, it was ranked Canada’s 9th-busiest airport and Ontario’s third-busiest airport by passenger numbers and the 14th-busiest Canadian airport in terms of aircraft movements. In 2013 it was voted the world’s 10th best airport with under 5 million passengers at the Skytrax World Airport Awards. The airport was previously known as Toronto City Centre Airport and Port George VI Island Airport.
Conceived in the 1930s as the main airport for Toronto, the construction of the airport was completed in 1939 by the Toronto Harbour Commission (THC). At the same time, the THC built Malton Airport as an alternate, but Malton became Toronto’s main passenger airline hub instead, leaving the island airport for general aviation and military purposes. During the 1940s and 1950s, several political leaders proposed expansion of the island airport to enable scheduled passenger airlines and reduce the annual operating costs. The Government of Canada expanded the island airport in 1962, in an exchange for Malton becoming federal property. After the expansion, civil flights increased to a peak of over 200,000 annual flights in the 1960s. Although regional airlines were introduced in the 1970s, the annual number of flights went into decline. In 1983, governance of the airport was changed under a 50-year tripartite agreement between the governments of Canada, Toronto and the Harbour Commission, which limited the noise and types of planes using the airport. In the 1990s, questions about the airport’s future were raised due to its annual deficit and the value of its waterfront location near downtown Toronto.
In 1999, operation of the airport was transferred to the new Toronto Port Authority (TPA) to operate the airport as a business enterprise and end the annual subsidy. Although expansion of the airport was and is politically controversial, the TPA has worked with new regional airline Porter Airlines since 2003 to increase scheduled carrier flights. Under the new financial model, carriers pay landing fees and departing passengers pay airport improvement fees to the TPA. Porter launched in 2006 and passenger volumes increased to the point that airport operations became self-sufficient by 2010. In 2011, Porter opened a new terminal. In 2012, the TPA began constructing a pedestrian tunnel to the airport, after a previous plan to build a bridge was cancelled. In 2013, Porter has proposed extending the airport runways and modifying the operating agreement to allow it to use Bombardier CS100 jets at the airport. The proposal is under study.