Real Estate By Rob Gowan 228 Views

Wiarton-Toronto flight to cost $175, take 40 minutes

A new flight service this summer will allow passengers to travel between Toronto to Wiarton in 40 minutes at a cost of $175.

FlyGTA Airlines and the Township of Georgian Bluffs announced Tuesday that the scheduled service between the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and the Wiarton Keppel International Airport will commence on May 24, with a guarantee to continue to Oct. 28, and possibly through the winter season.

The flights will run Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays with an approximate air time of 40 minutes. The cost is $175 one way. The plane to be used for the service is a Piper Navajo Panther, which seats nine, including the pilot.

On Tuesday, Georgian Bluffs Mayor Dwight Burley said they have been working for a while to bring a passenger service to the airport and it feels great to have it finalized.

“It is just an amazing thing for the whole area,” Burley said. “People are starting to understand how important it is to connect Grey-Bruce to the GTA and the rest of the world and this is one of the way and means of doing it.”

The flights are available for booking as of Tuesday at www.flygta.com, with afternoon departure times of either 1 or 2 p.m. from Toronto and 2 or 3 p.m. from Wiarton. The departures have no wait times and are served from private flight lounges.

Burley said there will be a passenger service area at the airport where passengers will wait for the pilot, who will take their information, walk them out to the plane and then take off.

“It will take 15 minutes, with no hassle, no nothing,” said Burley. “We are really looking forward to it.”

Burley said the service has garnered a lot of attention already, with the municipality’s website seeing increased traffic since the announcement early Tuesday morning.

“This is definitely going to work,” Burley said. “We are having people coming in wanting to book the whole plane.”

The municipality commissioned an air service survey early last year, with the results showing that the majority of respondents would be extremely or very likely to use the airport for a scheduled flight service.

Burley said those who use it will be a combination of people in the residential, commercial and business sectors who want to get to and from Toronto quickly. He also expects tourists to use the service both to get to Grey-Bruce, as well as people locally who want to get to Toronto.

Burley said the new service will allow people to fly to and from Wiarton one day, but return on another day, something many of the respondents to the survey expressed a desire to do.

Burley also said that locals will be able to use the service as a way to quickly get to Toronto and then to commute elsewhere.

Burley said that Georgian Bluffs is basically providing the airport, and FlyGTA is taking care of the rest, including bookings, scheduling the flights and other promotions. The airline has been provided with local vendors and accommodations such as hotels and bed and breakfasts, as well as rental car companies.

“We as a municipality aren’t getting involved in the car rentals and stuff like that,” said Burley. “It is up to the private companies to do that.”

Georgian Bluffs took over sole ownership of the airport in 2015 after buying South Bruce Peninsula’s 50 per cent stake for $600,000.

The municipalities had jointly owned the facility since it was downloaded from the federal government in 1996, but little work had been done to it since.

Since taking full ownership Georgian Bluffs has been working to grow and develop the facility. It purchased and renovated the old terminal building for a restaurant, while an aircraft maintenance and mechanical service business set up shop there last fall.

Burley said the facilities at the airport are completely full, including its hangars, with a new hangar development in the works. At least two new hangars will be constructed at the airport.

The municipality has also been working with area partners to promote the airport as a tourism and economic development driver, and continues to work with a marketing and consulting firm to bring more businesses and services and further develop the grounds.

“Regularly scheduled flights from the Wiarton International Airport is going to be a huge boost to our regional economy as residents, businesses and visitors can now travel directly to and from downtown Toronto,” Grey County’s senior economic development officer Steve Furness said in a news release. “The bonus is they will have an outstanding sightseeing tour of what makes the Grey Bruce Region a great place to live and visit.”