Fact Check: Pearson Able to Grow Substantially, No Need for Expanded Island Airport
Pearson Master Plan Shows Capacity Would Turn Expanded Island Airport into White Elephant September 30, 2013 TORONTO – Sometimes the truth is hard to accept. That’s certainly the case for the chorus of jet proponents that keeps arguing about Pearson Airport being at or even beyond capacity. The flawed conclusion: it’s necessary to expand the Island Airport with jets. The problem: Pearson isn’t anywhere close to capacity, making a bigger Island Airport unnecessary.
Current CapacityUnder current constrictions at Pearson, a practical maximum of 520,000 aircraft movements can take place per year (each takeoff or landing counts as one movement) – given the current infrastructure. In 2012, 434,000 aircraft movements took place – and a good chunk of them freight planes or training flights. Total passenger number was at 34.9 million. That means Pearson Airport can accommodate another approx. 7 million passengers per years without making any changes to the existing infrastructure (for a total of 41.8 million passengers per year).
Planned CapacityIf Pearson Airport decides to beef up it’s “airside infrastructure”, it can grow much further. According to the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA), the arms-length federal entity running Pearson, there are no obstacles to developing sufficient terminal infrastructure to accommodate growth in passengers up to the maximum airside capacity. The GTAA forecasts potential capacity of up to 54 million passengers per year. The Pearson Airport master plan makes it clear that the key to unlocking this capacity increase of 12 million more passengers is the construction of a sixth runway. The plans are already drawn up, the Environmental Assessment completed. All that Pearson has to decide on is when to go ahead – probably before 2017. A sixth runway is expected to raise the annual practical limit on aircraft movements to 580,000. Additional or expanded structures (e.g., taxiways, deicing facilities, terminal piers, parking, etc.) would be required to support a new runway (see Master Plan 4.8). The design and construction of the new runway would likely take three to four years. The current master plan states that the runway should be in place by 2019.
In addition to the runway plans, the GTAA has also committed and budgeted $407 million for the planned expansion of Terminal 3. Another $114 million for upgrades to Terminal 1 are being considered.