Just about every traveller who flies in or out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) is immediately sold on the experience, not just for the convenience, but the services too. A company called Nieuport Aviation is the terminal owner and operator at Billy Bishop Airport, and in this edition of Take 5, Nieuport Aviation President & CEO Neil Pakey talks top-level deliverables. Number one on the list? Ensuring YTZ passengers have an easy, seamless travel experience.
- Nieuport Aviation owns and operates the passenger terminal at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Millions of travellers use Billy Bishop Airport, but they may be unfamiliar with Nieuport Aviation. Can you tell us, what is Nieuport Aviation’s role in making YTZ run as well as it does?
“As the terminal owner and operator at Billy Bishop Airport, we see millions of travellers come through the airport doors each year. We love creating a welcoming, safe and comfortable experience for passengers, in the heart of the city, ensuring the experience is seamless and enjoyable.
“We are part of a fantastic airport ecosystem that works closely together to ensure passengers have access to the services and amenities they expect from a world class airport. We understand that air travel can be stressful, so we work hard to minimize wait times and maximize enjoyment in all aspects of the airport experience, making it easy, simple and fast. Our complimentary shuttle bus service between the airport and near Union Station takes no more than 15 minutes and provides the seamless travel experience that comes with flying from a downtown airport.
“We also want to ensure we’re making the airport a part of the local community, integrating ourselves into the mix and supporting the arts, education and events that make the waterfront the place it is. We also know how important sustainability is to our passengers, and it is to us too, so this is always at the top of our agenda.
- What are the must-have deliverables for Nieuport Aviation when it comes to the overall traveller experience at YTZ?
“We want to ensure our passengers have an easy, seamless travel experience – cultivating a stress-free travel experience is what we are known for. Our team works independently and in collaboration with our partners to see that travelling to, from and through YTZ is simple.
“Let me give a concrete example: inside the terminal, that means incredibly low wait times. Last year, we saw an average security wait time of less than 5 minutes! That holds true for both travel within Canada and the U.S.
“We are an incredibly efficient terminal, and we pack a lot of great, local amenities into the airport for our passengers and in the coming months you will see a few new additions to our terminal, including a Swissport Aspire Lounge opening.
“Following the global pandemic, we see our carriers adapting to accommodate a wider set of demographics travelling from the airport and we do whatever we can to support this. For example, we are investing in spaces that make sure families feel supported and comfortable travel from our terminal.
“But we don’t stop our thinking at the doors of the terminal. As I said, we also want the journey to the airport to be as easy as possible. Not only do we provide a complimentary shuttle bus between the airport and Union Station, we also work closely with our local transit agencies to promote greater transit connectivity to and from the airport whether it be through well connected streetcar access, the city’s bike share network and convenient pick-up and drop-off points for taxis and ride sharing companies. Not ignoring the fact you can walk to most places in downtown from our airport!
“We continue to work to bring U.S. Customs & Border pre-clearance at Billy Bishop Airport because we know it will open access to many more destinations within the United States, which allows our passengers to see new places or revisit old favourites, having new adventures and creating memories. We often hear from our passengers that they would like to be able to get to more places from the airport they love in the heart of downtown Toronto and we know U.S. pre-clearance is a key to enabling that.”
- The airport is primarily known for flights with Porter Airlines and Air Canada. What can you tell us about their YTZ networks, and are there any other airlines that fly in and out of YTZ?
“We’re pleased to bring a network of exciting destinations to our passengers from Billy Bishop Airport.
“Our airline partners, Porter Airlines and Air Canada fly to almost 20 destinations including a mix of regional airports and key hubs.
“Soon YTZ will see its third carrier, Connect Airlines, operating from the airport to some new U.S. destinations like Philadelphia and Chicago O’Hare.
“The route network encompasses airports in areas such as northern Ontario, which provides simple onward connectivity to cities that would otherwise be difficult to reach.
“Additionally, through our carriers, the global market can be accessed through hubs like Montreal, New York, Chicago and Boston. It’s something that I, as a waterfront community member, often do when I return to my home in Ireland.”
- What is something the industry should, but might not know about the airport?
“In a word, convenience.
“Downtown airports are a gem for a city, they enable tourism and trade directly and indirectly.
“Billy Bishop is a different kind of downtown airport – it is literally steps from the heart of the Canada’s largest city.
“For those flying in, that means you can get to key places such as the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the CN Tower, or the Aquarium in under 10 minutes. The future FIFA stadium and Ontario Place will be just a short walk along the waterfront. It really is an obvious choice for passengers visiting for events as well as other business and tourism.
“For those needing to make quick trips, to see friends and family or for a conference or business meeting, our location and convenience also allows our passengers to connect to a wide range of exciting destinations and be able to get back in time for dinner, due to the speed and ease.”
- In less than two decades, YTZ has gone from an underused gateway to a thriving hub. You mentioned a network of nearly 20 destinations – and the airport’s recovery has been remarkable. What are you most proud of in terms of how this airport operates and serves travellers in Toronto and beyond?
“As I mentioned before, we’re part of a thriving ecosystem of businesses that make the airport successful. Our team is proud of the work we’ve done to create an easy and convenient experience for our passengers, which was recognized earlier this year when Billy Bishop Airport ranked eighth in the Skytrax World Airport Awards’ ‘World’s Best Airports (under five million passengers)’ category, the highest ranked airport in north america. We’re also proud of all of the service providers on the island, including Ornge, for all they do to save lives and transport medical emergencies through the airport and into the city hospitals.
“We’re excited about the future of our shuttle bus operations, as we’re replacing our diesel buses with fully electric ones as part of our sustainability journey. This is an important step towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions and bringing a brighter, more sustainable future for our airport terminal and neighbouring communities.
“I am proud of how the city and the province depend on us as a catalyst for the city’s economic recovery and growth. Our route network and unique location provides an opportunity for us to stimulate markets and connect Toronto with the world and the world with Toronto.
“We hear first-hand how downtown businesses depend on us for the ease of travel and the connectivity our airline partners provide. We also love how we’re able to provide a means of people coming to visit friends and relatives, which we now see the importance of more than ever.”