Our vision for Toronto’s cleaner, greener downtown airport

Neil Pakey, the CEO and President of Nieuport Aviation, writes for International Airport Review about how they are dedicating a sustainable future for Toronto’s Billy Bishop City Centre Airport.

As we all look forward to a busy autumn and winter travel season at Toronto’s Billy Bishop City Centre Airport (YTZ), it is far from business as usual. Here at YTZ, change is in the air.

Our business is different today because society has changed – and not only because of COVID-19. The social environment we operate in has changed, with renewed commitments to indigenous reconciliation and to diversity, equity and inclusion. Equally, concerns about our natural environment have grown significantly, with a much sharper focus on combatting climate change and mapping our way to net zero.

I was so grateful to see YTZ recognised with a provincial award for our post‑pandemic business recovery, and the industry Skytrax award for best airport with fewer than five million passengers in North America, but I also know that much of our work is still ahead. And after 40+ years working in the aviation industry with industry leaders from around the world, I have never been more excited about where we are headed in terms of becoming a cleaner, greener, quieter downtown Toronto airport.

Our commitment to sustainability

Nieuport is fully committed to working closely with other airport stakeholders to reach carbon neutrality and be leaders in sustainability, but, we need a new operating agreement to enable us to bring in the innovation to deliver this. The same kinds of technological innovations that once focused on reduced travel times for air passengers, will now be focused on creating a net zero environment.

In terms of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), our aviation industry globally is on the verge of a major transformation, one that we intend to be leaders in. With our minimum travel times, high utilisation of public transport and connecting transit, and with customers literally walking to downtown offices from their arrival gates and vice versa, Billy Bishop City Centre Airport, and downtown city airports like us, are well placed to deliver on the economic and sustainability needs of progressive, global cities like Toronto.

We know that the biofuels already available can reduce aviation emissions in the future by up to 80% and we know new fuels are being developed that are produced entirely from renewable biomass and even waste resources such as used cooking oil. Our current operating agreement permits just one type of commercial aircraft, and we need to be able to encourage greener and quieter aircraft here as well as the extremely reliable Q400s.

We are working with our vendors and retail partners to undertake their own sustainability and ESG initiatives. In addition, we are also working shoulder‑to‑shoulder with our partner, PortsToronto, to maximise the airport’s sustainability. For the past decade, YTZ has used 100% green and renewable energy from Bullfrog Power to power our operations with clean, renewable electricity. We have also brought in more sustainable de-icing treatments at the airport to reduce our impact on the local environment and waterways.

Planning ahead

In 2024, we will be thrilled to unveil Nieuport Aviation’s new electrified shuttle buses, which will further reduce our carbon footprint moving forward by an estimated 4.6 metric tonnes of CO2 per year. Nieuport plans to fully replace its current fleet of diesel-powered passenger shuttle buses with fully electric, zero emission buses available to all passengers, complementing PortsToronto’s electric ferry service.

The next step is sustainable fuels. We are energised to be in talks with a new carrier at YTZ, Boston-based commuter airline Connect Airlines. What makes the partnership special is the fact that Connect Airlines has signed a letter of intent with Universal Hydrogen to retrofit up to 100 Dash 8 turboprop planes with hydrogen fuel conversions. This will position Connect Airlines to become one of the first airlines to lead the fight in decarbonising aviation, using zero emission hydrogen-fuelled planes.

Zero emission airlines are the future of our industry. While electric and hydrogen powered commercial planes are still a few years away, the trend is clear: fewer emissions, quieter planes and more efficient cabins – or as we like to say, ‘cleaner, greener and quieter.’

Focussing on the controllable, we will invest to ensure our passenger terminal delivers on carbon neutrality. For our airlines, research and development of sustainable aviation fuels will focus on delivering safe, reliable, and low-to-no emissions. These fuels will create additional revenues for farmers on the biofuel side, will improve aircraft performance, and will create new, green jobs. Stay tuned!

Neil Pakey is the President and CEO of Nieuport Aviation, the owner and operator of the airport terminal at Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ) and a veteran of the global aviation industry.

Go to Source...