Like the MOOSE Rail clown, Mark Brooks keeps telling us that this is now well beyond GA and that there's investors lined up to throw down billions on a Pickering airport if only the government would let them.If they were to build Pickering as a 20 million passenger per year facility from day one, sure.
There's no plans for that though.
They could launch as a massive facility in Pickering if they had a major anchor and major investors. But there's no business case for any airline to move there. And there's no investors close to the league required to build that large facility.
Consider this: The proposed Pearson transit hub has a supposed price tag of $11 billion. That's just the transit hub. That's not the terminals, airside facilities, etc. Each runway will end up costing a billion dollars alone. And their little graphic shows three major runways. What they are proposing is easily $5 billion. And that's just the terminal and airfield. Does not include all the civil works to facilitate the airport or transit connections. As a point of reference, the redevelopment of LaGuardia (which handles 30 million mostly domestic pax per year) is running at US$8 billion. In reality, when you add it all up, it's a CA$7-10 billion plan for what Mark envisions at Pickering.
With those price tags in mind, now ask yourself which airline will want to be the anchor at that airport, and can generate enough traffic to pay off that kind of debt. Can't be Westjet or Air Canada. Business traffic is a big deal and all those head offices are in the western GTA or in the downtown core. Not to mention that neither carrier would want to split up traffic from a hub. Air Transat would have been a candidate. But AC owns them now. Sunwing is too small and seasonally dependent to be the prime anchor. Who else is left?
One could argue that they could scale back plans and go with smaller runways, smaller terminal, etc. But all of it leads to the same problem. Who will provide the traffic that will pay for this? They could build a $1 billion airport that's the size of Waterloo tomorrow and they'd face the same problem. Who will operate from there and provide the traffic that let's them pay off the debt?
The "If you build it, they will come" approach doesn't work for multi-billion dollar facilities. And that brings me to the next point: investors. I don't doubt that Mark has some conditional investors line up who might have tens or even hundreds of millions. But I seriously question if there's enough investor support to plop down billions on this idea. Which inevitably means they will need taxpayer support. Hence why Mark is here to socialize the idea with the public....
As far as a rail connection goes. If there was going to be an airport there, co-locating the GTA East station at the airport makes a lot of sense. Shared parking, feed from air to rail and vice versa. But if the airport is a rather sketchy idea, why the heck would you build your station out there? Would make much more sense to locate near where there's residents and industry...ie Markham. Not to mention, Mark and his fantasy crew have completely ignored the rail line and not even planned to run it through their terminal. It was seen entirely as a fuel conveying operation until Mark and co. realized that a government entity wants to run a $4 billion rail service right through their fantasy map, making their plans as realistic as the MOOSE Rail crew. Having tried to trash rail and HFR and failed, he's realizing he needs to work it in to his sales pitch. Maybe he should start with something basic like actually co-locating the rail line and the terminal and considering how many hundreds of millions will have to be spent on triple tracking the corridor till Pickering to provide VIA HFR, GO RER and fuel delivery service.