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Wednesday,  June 12, 2024 11:04 AM 

Construction of U.S. preclearance at Billy Bishop to begin this July for fall 2025 launch

Construction of U.S. preclearance at Billy Bishop to begin this July for fall 2025 launch
From left: Neil Pakey president & CEO, Nieuport Aviation; RJ Steenstra, president & CEO, PortsToronto; Sean Smithson, Toronto Regional VP, Pomerleau; Steven Tanguy, managing director, Alstef Canada; Sandra Pupatello, board chair, PortsToronto. (Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport).
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Officials from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) on Wednesday (May 29) shared an update on its plan to introduce U.S. Customs and Border Protection Preclearance (U.S. CBP) in late 2025.

Holding a press conference at downtown Toronto’s island airport, officials from PortsToronto, which owns and operates Billy Bishop, named Pomerleau as the firm in charge of constructing the new space, while Alstef Canada will be the baggage handling system provider.

“As the fifth-busiest Canadian airport serving the U.S., Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is ideally positioned to offer U.S. Preclearance and anticipates significant enhancements to passenger experience, destination offering, and economic impact as a result of the introduction of this service," said RJ Steenstra, president and CEO of PortsToronto.

As previously reported, the federal government has invested $30 million in capital funding to make U.S. Preclearance – which will let Billy Bishop passengers clear customs in Toronto, rather than having to do it upon landing at U.S. airports – a reality at YTZ.

Neil Pakey, president and CEO of Nieuport Aviation, noted how the benefits of Preclearance have been demonstrated at 15 airports around the world.

Recent research by York Aviation shows that Billy Bishop has the potential to deliver $5.3 billion in economic output through the increased aviation activity that Preclearance will bring about.

“Set to open ahead of FIFA 2026, Preclearance fulfils our promise of continually enhancing the passenger experience, and will allow Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to be the front door to Toronto for even more visitors in the years to come,” Pakey said.

Sean Smithson, Toronto Regional VP at Pomerleau, said construction of the facility will start mid-July. “We look forward to this best-in-class facility going live by fall 2025,” Smithson said.

The project aims to reduce airport congestion and transportation bottlenecks, and improve the overall capacity in the transportation system.

Preclearance will also open up new markets to the U.S. as travellers will be able to access smaller U.S. airports that do not currently have U.S. CBP, and therefore cannot accept travellers that have not been precleared.

There are currently 15 U.S. CBP preclearance locations in six countries around the world – including Canada. Eight Canadian airports currently offer preclearance, with Billy Bishop becoming the ninth such facility.

Billy Bishop is the ninth busiest airport in Canada and the fifth busiest serving U.S. markets. The downtown airport on the Toronto Islands welcomes roughly 450,000 U.S. passengers per year.

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