What’s Inside The KPMG Pickering Airport Report?

In 2016 a team from the international accounting organization KPMG (consisting of a project manager, three subject matter experts, and an evaluation services consultant) started work on a report that will chart the future of growth and economic prosperity in the eastern Toronto region. The KPMG report is expected to be more than just an update of the aviation sector analysis for southern Ontario. The primary goal of this analysis was to produce a comprehensive report that summarizes when, and in what form, Pickering Airport will be built.

The original Transport Canada contract was funded to August 2017. However, the report funded by this contract has not been released. The Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, as late as spring 2019, has stated that it is not complete. His critics suggest it is being withheld for political reasons.

Although this analysis has not been released, its scope of work is revealing, and covers three areas:

  1. Supply and demand (update of an earlier 2011 Aviation Needs Assessment)
  2. Type and role of airports in the southern Ontario regional airport system
  3. Revenue-generating potential and economic impact of a new Pickering airport

The analysis builds on the relevant elements of the earlier 2011 needs study by forecasting the timing of, and economic triggers for, the development of a new airport on the Pickering Lands. In addition, it will assess options for other economic development that could take place in conjunction with the airport.

Overall, the aim of this analysis is a comprehensive report that summarizes when, and in what form, Pickering Airport should be built. Specifically:

(1) when an airport will be required;

(2) what type of airport will be needed (commercial reliever, mixed general aviation, etc.) and how it will fit into the existing Southern Ontario regional airports system;

(3) when will the airport be financially viable and provide sufficient economic benefits to warrant the investment?

The KPMG team was assisted in this assessment by Transport Canada’s own experts.

With a federal election now called for October 21, 2019, the report is not expected to be released until after a new government is formed. Once released, it will form and define the requirements for the next step, an Olympic-sized RFP (request for proposal) calling for bids on the development of the new airport.

Although the report has not been released, we do have some insight into Southern Ontario’s expected aviation capacity squeeze over next decade. Below is a graph of the estimated passenger demand and supply compiled from the current masterplans from the major airports serving Southern Ontario, i.e. Pearson, Hamilton, Waterloo and Billy Bishop Airports. It includes the capacity added by Pickering airport in two phases. Without the new Pickering airport opening in 2029, demand is expected to exceed supply, no later than 2036 and possibly as early as 2026 if the GTAA public funding requests for its union west project go unanswered.

With Pearson already congested at peak periods, Toronto’s aviation demand will outstrip the available supply as early as 2026. The chart assumes that the current GTAA masterplan is fully implemented. This includes billions in public funding to avoid roadside gridlock at Pearson by building the Union Station West transit hub. The first phase of Pickering is shown online by 2029.

Without Pickering Airport, Toronto can expect constrained economic growth, excess greenhouse gas emissions from congestion (both airside and on the road), and soaring travel costs.

Will the next federal government decide to leap into action to save Toronto from its growing pains with an Olympic-sized RFP? Will it simply step out of the way and let private investors build the new airport? Or will it see this as an opportunity to attempt to force growth away from Toronto to other cities, Montreal perhaps?  Whoever wins the upcoming federal election will set the tone for how and when the KPMG report is released.


9 thoughts on “What’s Inside The KPMG Pickering Airport Report?

  1. Hi Mark. Back to your old “broken record” theme again. Capacity. It is a Transport Canada math formula. Why don’t you take us all through that math exercise of average hourly airport capacity and your understanding of how it delivers the annual max capacity of Toronto into the future. It’s not hard, ..just grade 10 math. GTAA set it out in their 2007 master plan, and used it again in the NASPL. Would you like me to send you a copy?
    KPMG will have to address it. Might be interesting, and reduce the needless speculation.

    1. Hi Ivan,
      Always good to spare with you over numbers but you may want to note: our analysis gives the benefit of the doubt to all the masterplans, even the GTAAs latest by assuming that they will find a way to meet its extreme assumptions on slots and passenger ground access to/from the airport.

      The first set of assumptions about all weather slots are extraordinary including:

      – upping YYZ slot capacity from the earlier plan you mentioned despite growth in aircraft size and minimal airside improvements.
      – Insisting that Toronto Pearson can maintain movement levels at a level never sustained above the snow line anywhere with Pearson’s runway configuration.
      – successfully cutting and filling movements without any limitations imposed by the congestion at the destination airports.
      – To be clear we gave them the benefit of the doubt that this can be achieved knowing as they do that the real plan is to force the erosion of Billiy Bishops and Pearson’s night flight restrictions once the crisis reaches a level that transport will have no other choice but to allow it “temporarily”.

      The second set of masterplan assumptions that is nonsensical is around avoiding roadside gridlock with Billions in Tax payer funding.

      The GTAA just loves to assume that 10-15 billion of public funds will come to its rescue when the clock runs out. . This money is needed to resolve the passenger ground transportation gridlock to/from the airport by shifted at least 30% of passengers to public transit with Union Station west. This is including assumptions we now know to be false on five separation publicly funded transit initiatives that either have been canceled, dont have the billions in tax dollar funding commitments or will come online years later than the GTAA is planning for.

      Some have funding and a committed time table, such as improving Mississauga bus/ rapid transit , some have neither such as the billion dollar 407 transit right of way from Oshawa to Brampton (85 km). Some has been committed to, such as the cross town eglinton subway link ($4.5 billion ) but not in the timeframe they want. ( opening 2031 ? ). One, the high speed rail from London to Toronto has been cancelled outright. Even a straight forward LRT extension up from Humber ( a mere 8 km at $100 million a km, plus land expropriation), is just a twinkle in some planners eye.

      The GTAA masterplan is wishful thinking, but hey, if it is assumed in the masterplan, so we are also assuming that they find a way to make it work once the crunch forces our politicians to act.

      The point is even when everything goes perfectly, the house of cards still collapses . The shift to aviation as the primary means of intercity travel is unstoppable. Short of a major economic meltdown, Our only hope is to rush Pickering airport into service ASAP and even then we will need to endure years of congestion, soaring travel costs with profiteering from the status quo. Anyway you cut it, the number one crisis on the desk of the next minister of Transport is how to build Pickering Airport as fast as possible

  2. Come on Mark. This is smoke and mirrors. Do the calculations. Set the benchmark. Then we can talk. Pickering, by contract, can only proceed, on a toronto capacity limit, as you have noted in your writings. That “capacity limit” is a defined, quantifiable TC calculation and gtaa have themselves defined how to do it. So, …. do it.
    KPMG will. …
    Then we can discuss movements, growth rates, and time starting at ~472,000 today.

    1. We have done the calculations and we don’t think they can do it, but to make it simple we are taking them at their word and using the numbers in the GTAA masterplan. After all they have a world class team that is heavily rewarded to maximize the number of aircraft movements per hour.

      You can find the slot calculations discussion here:


      How this managed congestion will work here:


      And how the laws of man and physics limits the numbers of aircraft that can safely land per hour at Pearson here:


      And the risks involved trying to exceed these limits here:


      They think they can achieve all weather movement numbers never achieved before on this runway configuration in an airport above the snow belt. 48 an hour on 23, 60 an hour total on paired 24L&24R. The grand experiment on the citizens of Toronto has begun.

      The results from last winter are already horrible and we anticipated that it will get worse with each passing year:


  3. That’s good Mark. Showing us Buttonville weather, and delivering Eng’s excuses. Stop the tap dancing, produce the official TC runway capacity formulae and bring it up to date.
    Hint : in 2007 it was 119 ave. movements per hour. Same in 2011. More now.

    Of course Eng has slot limits. He’d calls it “load spreading”. He runs the place to maximize HIS profits. He says so in his plans and reports. He is also spending billions acquiring land east of airport road for his union station west / superlinx proposal to increase his “supply”. He has surplus capacity and he has said so multiple times.

    So will KPMG. Do the math. Oshawa is now. Pickering is a pipe dream.
    Ps What are your estimates of the land fees at your Pickering. …20 x the North American average? Toronto is what, now…10?

    1. You might want to read the previous masterplan that you are referring to again. Your creative interpretation is not what is in the document. Specifically page 5.8, and table 5.3, That states specifically that under IMC conditions the maximum number of movements is 108 or less 21% of the time. This is directly in line with our take on this issue.

  4. Hi Mark , I am very familiar with both master plans. There is no creativity in a properly applied math equation.

    Put up the whole equation and let’s discuss it ….not some old, partial, average, number that occurs “21% of the time.”
    Links to the whole document(S) would also be appreciated.

    Ps I understand you to be a part time flying instructor, what is your full time occupation? The reason I ask is this discussion can get technical as in “ what is IMC”. I know you understand some of this but most folks may not. Hope that does not offend.

    1. As to my work, right now I have three gigs, all flying. if I recall you have stated that you use to fly and are now retired? Times have changed, it is a red hot gig based economy now. I will not name the outfits that I fly for and as per corporate guidelines my opinions are my own, but you are welcome to enjoy my Facebook posts of the new multi million dollar machines I am blessed to be flying around. I am also blessed to be able to help out locally at the Canadian Flyers flight school, teaching Instrument flying, CPL and PPL, and work with and help guide some amazing bight young instructors and students.
      I have an open mind, but it is not appropriate to use our comments section to offhandedly claim to be better than all the Aviation planning experts and active pilots who deal daily with Torontos capacity crunch and its safety challenges.

      If you wish to challenge the laws of man and physics, we could entertain that as a separate posting, say with a rebuttal of your math. Or you could post on your own website, is it growoshawa.ca or something…. or perhaps land over landings could post it for you.

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