Daily flights between London and Toronto Island could take off in early 2018

The entrance and sign to London International Airport on July 19, 2017. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

Londoners will soon have a new way to get to Toronto.

The London International Airport is working out the final details that would see daily flights between London and Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island.

The London airport currently offers daily flights between London and Toronto, but those flights are with Air Canada and WestJet and go to Pearson Airport. The flights to Billy Bishop Airport would be different.

FlyGTA Airlines operate 8-seat turboprop planes and is interested in starting the daily flights early in 2018.

It’s something the London airport has been looking to add for a while.

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“It’s something that intuitively we thought would work for a long time but trying to get the right carrier to do it has been a bit of a challenge,” said London airport president Mike Seabrook. “We have a lot of traffic that goes to and from Toronto. A lot that drive, a lot that take the train and a lot that take the bus.”

Seabrook estimates flight would take 25-30 minutes and they would start modestly, with a minimum of two flights a day. One to Toronto in the morning and then a return flight to London during the dinner hour. If there’s enough interest, more flights could be added.

There’s no word on the cost of a possible ticket, but when FlyGTA began flights between Toronto and Niagara last September, a one-way ticket for the 15-minute flight cost $99.

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When the flights begin, Seabrook says they want to streamline the travel process to make it as easy as possible.

“It’s almost like a taxi service or a train service where you can arrive 10-15 minutes before the flight, get on the plane, take your flight and it really shortens the whole period of time,” he said.

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Despite the London airport handling a record 514,685 passengers in 2016, Seabrook says “leakage” continues to be a problem. Leakage in the aviation industry happens when an airport has passengers leaving or arriving in a market that don’t leave from the local airport. Often time local passengers will bypass London to travel out of Toronto, Detroit, Hamilton or even Buffalo.

Seabrook hopes adding daily flights like the London to Toronto Island flights, will help solve that.

“If we can do that, today our passenger numbers are around 525,000 passengers a year. There’s no reason why we can’t be at 1 million or 2 million passengers,” he said.

FlyGTA is set to add flights to the Region of Waterloo International Airport and Lake Simcoe Regional Airport in Barrie Nov. 6.

London airport officials are set to meet with FlyGTA this week to discuss their plans for 2018.

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