Next year, people will be able to fly from the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport to New York City.
The new air charter service will begin in September 2020, while Simcoe County will acquire an increased ownership stake in the airport in January.
“Five years ago, our company had this wonky little dream that we wanted to be the first travel agency to start chartering our own 737-400 aircraft,” said Scott Stewart, president of CWT Vacations/Blowers and Stewart Travel Group Ltd., which is headquartered in Peterborough, Ont.
“Those aircraft hold 156 seats, and we would start to create a passenger experience ‘that was the way it used to be.'”
When travellers arrive at the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport (LSRA), they will be greeted by staff with iPads and will be checked in, Stewart said.
“We’re going to take your bags for you, we’re going to hand you your boarding pass, check your passport, then you’re going to park in the parking lot at no charge,” he added.
According to Barrie–Innisfil MP John Brassard, the LSRA is “one of the best economic development drivers in central Ontario.”
“The LSRA will help meet the increasing demands in air service for southern Ontario, but most importantly, it will drive our economy,” he said.
Simcoe County warden George Cornell told Global News the county is expecting that more people will be attracted to the region from a tourism perspective.
“As we continue to develop and expand the airport, we’ll be attracting more businesses to the site here at the airport,” he said.
“Today, it’s New York City — the future will bring more destinations, more jobs and further economic growth.”
LSRA is a member of the Southern Ontario Airport Network, which was established in 2015 and formalized in 2017 as a forum for 12 of the leading commercial airports in the region.
Simcoe County and Oro-Medonte have each held 20 per cent of shares in the LSRA since 2014, with Barrie being a 60 per cent shareholder.
As of January, Simcoe County will acquire an additional 70 per cent of shares and become the majority shareholder with 90 per cent stake, while Barrie will maintain 10 per cent of shares.