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Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Gets Its First Lounge

The Aspire | Air Canada Café at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (Photo: Swissport)

Toronto’s downtown airport has received its first dedicated lounge with the opening of the Aspire | Air Canada Café. The new space at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport offers a new experience for passengers at an already unique airport.

The Aspire | Air Canada Café

The new lounge is a collaboration between Air Canada and Swissport’s Aspire Lounges. With 133 seats and over 4,000 square feet of space, the lounge offers amenities including a bookable meeting room, wireless charging, workspaces for taking calls, as well as televisions and WiFi. Food offerings include a fully tendered bar, a buffet with hot and cold options and a selection of grab-and-go items.

The Aspire | Air Canada Café at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (Photo: Swissport)

The lounge was built to meet LEED ID+C standards, a global certification that ensures the use of sustainable building practices. Swissport stated that the new lounge aims to be the company’s first LEED-certified lounge. Other environmental efforts include wine served on tap, eliminating the need for bottles, and water provided through a filtration system instead of plastic bottles.

The Air Canada Café concept debuted at Toronto Pearson International Airport in 2019. The lounge at Toronto Pearson offers café and bar seating with complimentary food and beverages but its most notable innovation was the introduction of grab-and-go options. The Aspire | Air Canada Café at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is the second location for the Air Canada Café concept. Access to the lounge will be available to passengers with an Air Canada business class ticket, travelers with elite status in Air Canada’s Aeroplan loyalty program, and members of certain membership programs like Priority Pass and DragonPass.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Air Canada on our first joint lounge concept and are very pleased with the result,” Swissport Canada Chief Executive Officer Charles Roberge stated in a press release. “With Billy Bishop City Airport now part of our lounge network, Aspire operates six lounges at four Canadian airports and plans to continue to expand across Canada”

The Aspire Lounge at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport under construction in March 2023 — there were no visible signs of Air Canada branding at this time (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Andrew Chen)


Competition Ramps Up at Toronto’s Downtown Airport

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is located on an island off the shore of downtown Toronto, Canada’s largest city. From 2006 to 2011, Porter Airlines flew out of the airport with virtually no competition. Air Canada began serving Montreal, Quebec from the airport in 2011 but Porter remained the dominant carrier. While the airport still mostly sees Porter aircraft at its terminal, Air Canada has been ramping up operations at the airport, most notably with the introduction of flights to Ottawa, Ontario in 2021.

The addition of a lounge demonstrates an ongoing commitment to the airport by Air Canada. It offers an additional benefit to the airline’s highest-value customers: business class travelers and elite members of its frequent flyer program. Given its location, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has naturally been popular among business travelers and the new lounge is fitting for the market.

Although the lounge is the airport’s first and only lounge in the formal sense of the term, Porter Airlines previously offered complimentary snacks and beverages in the domestic departures lounge. The refreshments, combined with the airport’s comfortable seating, led some to label the entire gate area as a “lounge.”

Complimentary snacks were previously offered in the domestic gate area of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Andrew Chen)

Porter’s complimentary snacks and beverages are no longer offered, and new food and retail outlets have opened in the domestic departures lounge. While the terminal itself has not expanded in size, the gate area now appears more like that of a standard North American airport than a small unique downtown airport.

The airport’s passenger terminal owner is optimistic about what the new lounge brings to the airport. “We are thrilled to see the opening of a new lounge at YTZ. Featuring local and sustainable amenities in a serene bespoke space, this lounge builds upon the award-winning amenities for passengers at Toronto’s City Airport,” said Neil Pakey, President and CEO of Nieuport Aviation, the owner and operator of the passenger terminal.

Andrew Chen


  • Andrew Chen

    Andrew is a lifelong lover of aviation and travel. He has flown all over the world and is fascinated by the workings of the air travel industry. As a private pilot and glider pilot who has worked with airlines, airports and other industry stakeholders, he is always excited to share his passion for aviation with others. In addition to being a writer, he also hosts Flying Smarter, an educational travel podcast that explores the complex world of air travel to help listeners become better-informed and savvier travelers.

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