Toronto airline lands at Midway Airport

November 12, 2008 3:07:03 PM PST
Despite the difficult economic times, a new addition is taking off at Midway Airport-- Toronto-based Porter Airlines. While most airlines trim their flights, Porter Airlines initiated a new flight between Chicago and Toronto, Canada. With Porter's arrival comes the return of international flights at Midway.

The inaugural flight was met with ceremonial water cannons. Onboard were airline executives and diplomats.

"Last week was the election of Senator Obama to the presidency," said Porter Airlines CEO Robert DeLuce. "We certainly didn't plan any of that but on the other hand, we recognize that there will be an increasing amount of passenger traffic and requirements."

Chicago and Toronto have a sister cities arrangement, so there's already a good amount of travel back and forth between the cities. Porter is banking on a renewed interest in Chicago from north of the border where the airline has fought to expand Toronto's lake front airport, which is configured much the same as the old Meig's Field.

"It's just this new tourist site. When you see all of those people in Grant Park the other night, people will be wanting to come here. But over and above that, and the connection with the president-elect, that really does mean there will be further business connections," said Georges Rioux, Canadian Consul General.

The move is a shot in the arm for Midway, which lost A.T.A. Airlines in June when it went bankrupt.

Meanwhile, in Washington a federal task force Wednesday passed voluntary guidelines for airlines on how to treat passengers who are stranded for hours on tarmacs. However, they produced no limit on how long people can be delayed before being allowed to leave planes. For these flyers, that's not good enough.

"I'm not for voluntary anything because it's not going to work. It won't happen," said one traveler.

"I think there should be guidelines. People should not be left on tarmacs because it's happened to me quite a few times. And I think it's inhumane," said another traveler.

Airport managers who are part of the tarmac task force said they need maximum amount of flexibility to be able to manage traffic at the airports, and, therefore, don't want guidelines that have to be enforced. They prefer the voluntary guidelines, which recommend airlines update passengers who are stranded on the tarmac every 15 minutes-- even if nothing has changed; offer secure rooms for international passengers so they can leave the plane without having to go through security again; and have refreshments available.

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