Cleaner, Greener Airports: Billy Bishop International Airport, Nieuport Aviation

Posted: 10 June 2022 | | No comments yet

In the next installment of International Airport Review’s Cleaner, Green Airport series, Neil Pakey, President & Chief Executive Officer at Nieuport Aviation, details the sustainability initiatives that are taking centre stage in Toronto City Airport’s terminal.

Cleaner, Greener Airports: Billy Bishop International Airport, Nieuport Aviation

Nieuport Aviation is committed to delivering a brighter and more sustainable future for the airport terminal we own and operate, as well as our neighbouring communities in Toronto. We are steadfast in our commitment to the strong Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) principles that help guide our work. Working with PortsToronto, we are taking concrete steps to maximise the impact of the airport’s sustainability initiatives, protect our local waterways, and be a strong community partner and asset to the City of Toronto.

Toronto City Airport (YTZ) is located right next to heart of downtown Toronto and its vibrant waterfront, a key tourism attraction and destination as well as a community space for the city. The airport is located on Toronto’s Centre Island, a popular outdoor recreational destination for Toronto residents and tourists due to its lush parks and popular beaches. Our approach is guided not just by consideration for sustainability at the airport terminal itself, but also the health and sustainability of the local surrounding environment and the health and well-being of our neighbouring communities.

Toronto City Airport (YTZ) is located right next to heart of downtown Toronto and its vibrant waterfront, a key tourism attraction and destination as well as a community space for the city”

We are fortunate to play a role in ensuring Toronto has a world-class city airport – supported by an efficient and sustainable bus shuttle service which we also operate – within its downtown core. Therefore, we see it as our responsibility to ensure the safe, efficient, and sustainable operations of this important asset, guided by a vision to be the airport of choice for downtown Toronto residents and visitors and a key community partner.

Credit: Nieuport Aviation

The pandemic has been a time of challenge, but also opportunity. Airlines elected to shut down passenger operations for 18 months at the beginning of the pandemic as demand for travel fell. In 2021, as we resumed passenger operations, we prioritised the health and safety of passengers, staff, and partners travelling through the airport allowing them to fly with confidence. We preserved, and passenger numbers have rebounded, and we are heading to a full recovery across the industry, and we are returning to the prosperous future we were planning for in 2019.

Over just this past year alone, we have launched new initiatives, taken steps to reduce our environmental impact, and worked to be a good neighbour to our community – just some of the many ways we are striving to make real, tangible, and measurable progress, and continue to demonstrate our social license to operate.

Greater transparency and management

While sustainability has always been at the heart of our work at the airport, in 2022 we are fully reporting on our sustainability performance with the publication of our first annual Sustainability Report, to better demonstrate our broader sustainability commitment and practices. These efforts are just one part of our commitment to strengthening our local and provincial economies, through significant infrastructure investments and strategic partnerships that emphasise community engagement and mobilisation. In 2021, we implemented a new environmental management system to ensure that our activities comply with applicable regulations and industry best practices.

Taking action

As we face the growing climate crisis, we at Nieuport understand the need for the aviation sector to undertake efforts to significantly reduce our emissions and protect our environment. That’s why we are committed to making tangible progress to reduce our carbon footprint, including providing clean, green, sustainable transportation options for all passengers, staff and visitors travelling to and from Toronto City Airport.

Greener transportation

At the end of 2021, Nieuport began to explore a shuttle bus electrification programme which will have a significant impact on reducing our carbon footprint moving forward. Nieuport plans to replace its current fleet of diesel-powered passenger shuttle buses with fully electric, zero-emission buses in the near term. We’re also a proud supporter of the Waterfront LRT project, bringing better, more sustainable mobility options to a congested downtown community and reducing reliance on cars for the last-mile solution.

Reducing emissions

Since 2010, Toronto City Airport has successfully reduced its environmental footprint by choosing 100 per cent green energy from Bullfrog Power to power all its operations with clean, renewable electricity. Through our agreement, Bullfrog Power’s generators inject renewable electricity back into the grid on our behalf to match the amount of electricity used by the airport’s operations.

Our approach is guided not just by consideration for sustainability at the airport terminal itself, but also the health and sustainability of the local surrounding environment”

As part of the ongoing maintenance and lifecycle programme, incandescent lights are being replaced with LED lights throughout all terminal areas within Billy Bishop Airport. This year, we replaced and upgrade all lights and light fixtures throughout the departures level. This initiative will continue into 2022 as we replace remaining lights through the terminal.

Eliminating plastics and other waste

As with previous years, Nieuport continues to offer passengers travelling through the airport an alternative to plastic water bottles with self-serve water bottle filling stations within both passenger lounges. Since implementation in 2016, the water refilling stations in Toronto City Airport’s passenger lounges have prevented more than 360,000 plastic water bottles from being sent to landfills. We’ve also brought in a sustainable alternative to the chemicals used for de-icing at the airport, minimising our impact on the local environment and waterways.

Credit: Nieuport Aviation

Our commitment to sustainability is shared by our vendors and retail partners, who are undertaking initiatives such as phase out of the use of plastics at the commercial stores within the terminal. And we look forward to continuing to work with them on their sustainability initiatives into the future as we continue our efforts to be a more efficient airport for travellers.

Water conservation

Our recognition of the importance of protecting our environment isn’t just limited to our work at the airport and the terminal itself. We’re also proud to support local organisations that play an active role in keeping our local environment and communities safe.

SwimDrinkFish is a non-profit organisation working to connect people with their local environment since 2001. As a member of the Toronto Waterfront business community, we share in their belief of the need that keep our natural water sources clean and safe, including the Great Lakes, is imperative to a clean and sustainable future. Nieuport staff participate in ‘day on the lake’ programmes with SwimDrinkFish, volunteering their time to learn more about the importance of clean, swimmable waters in the Great Lakes. As part of the Waterkeeper initiative, they performed water analysis along Toronto’s harbourfront to test the quality of the local waters. We also regularly participate in local park clean up days, ensuring we’re doing our part to keep our city and neighbourhoods clean.

In 2022, we are becoming a named partner with PortsToronto and SwimDrinkFish to help expand the Seabin Project, a partnership with the University of Toronto to clean our waterways by placing Seabins – which act like a vacuum cleaner on the surface of the water – in the harbour that trap and remove an estimated 209 pieces of small plastic per day. In 2021, the network of three bins could divert 33 kg (72 lbs) of litter throughout an entire season – the weight of approximately 3,400 plastic water bottles, which includes more than 230,000 pieces of small plastic.

Support for local community initiatives

We are also a long-term sponsor of Redpath Waterfront Festival, an annual summer festival held on Toronto’s waterfront that attracts millions of visitors to celebrate the vibrancy and rich culture of Toronto and its waterfront communities, as well as that of local Indigenous peoples. Working the City of Toronto’s ArtworxTO and Year of Public Arts initiative, our sponsorship last summer supported a live graffiti mural titled Nbii Dodem (Water Clans), telling the story of water as a healer, a teacher, a protector, and a source of life, brought to life by First Nations artist Que Rock over the course of the two-week event.

We aim to remain the faster, easier, friendlier airport for travellers and work in partnership with PortsToronto to be the cleaner, greener, quieter airport for our community”

This is just one of many initiatives we support, guided by our overall ESG commitments and practices as we strive to create positive local impacts through our sustainability work and give back. We use the GRESB’s advanced ESG assessment tools to benchmark our progress as we work to improve our social score and sustainability metrics while providing a better, more culturally enriched airport passenger experience. By doing so, we are creating the right conditions to continue to be vital part of Toronto’s future sustainability success.

The bottom line

We are setting more ambitious goals for 2022 and are working with partners and our local community as we continue to keep environmental sustainability at the forefront of our work. Through our diligent efforts and strong economic investments, we are building the foundation to continue serving the people of Toronto and Toronto’s visitor economy for many years to come. We aim to remain the faster, easier, friendlier airport for travellers and work in partnership with PortsToronto to be the cleaner, greener, quieter airport for our community.


Neil PakeyNeil Pakey is the President & CEO of Nieuport Aviation – owner and operator of the passenger terminal at YTZ, the Toronto City Airport. He is past CEO of the Shannon Airport Group, and past CEO of Peel Airports Group, and has served as Managing Director of Liverpool John Lennon Airport and as President of the UK Airport Operators Association. A former National Expert to the European Commission’s Air Transport Policy Unit, Neil also held senior roles for Manchester Airport plc and with the Vantage Airports Group. Neil also currently chairs RABA, the UK’s Regional and Business Airports Group.

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