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When Ottawa approved short flights to the capital from T.O. and Montreal

The fighting had gone on for years, all over flights that would last less than an hour.

Passengers could now fly between downtown airports and the nation's capital

In August 1982, Ottawa approved short-haul flights from Toronto to the capital, as well as Montreal to the capital. 1:51

The fighting had gone on for years, all over flights that would last less than an hour.

Yet in August of 1982, Ottawa announced it had approved so-called STOL flights — or short takeoff and landing service flights — that would allow passengers to fly from downtown Toronto to Ottawa, and also from the capital to downtown Montreal.

"It's been on the runway for more than 10 years, bogged down in bickering over environmental impact, financing costs and airline ownership," reporter Frank Hilliard told viewers on The National on Aug. 10, 1982. (His report did not explicitly mention that Toronto councillors had also previously expressed concerns that such service would hinder the long-term development of the city's waterfront.)

"But today, finally, short takeoff and landing service for Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, was cleared to take off."

'Faith in the private sector'

Federal Transport Minister Jean-Luc Pépin is seen speaking to the media at a news conference on Aug. 10, 1982, the day the federal government approved so-called STOL flights from downtown Toronto to Ottawa and also from downtown Montreal to the capital. (The National/CBC Archives)

Hilliard said the federal government had given its approval after two companies vying to deliver the service elected to join forces.

The reporter said the Montreal-based Canavia Transit and Toronto's City Centre Airways planned to begin operating flights the following spring. Passengers would be shuttled to their destinations on a small fleet of De Havilland Dash 7 aircraft.

Jean-Luc Pépin, the federal transport minister, said the service was expected to create jobs in the aerospace industry, while also providing more competition for consumers and new service options for business.

"This is really the government expressing its faith in the private sector," Pépin told reporters gathered at a news conference in Ottawa.

Not as noisy as once feared?

The federal government announced in August 1982 that it would approve a service that would let people board flights in downtown Toronto to travel to Ottawa, as well as flights from downtown Montreal to the capital. (The National/CBC Archives)

However, as Hilliard pointed out to viewers, Ottawa had its own interests in seeing the service go forward, as the government owned the De Havilland company that made the planes that would be used.

"[De Havilland] has been fairly successful selling the aircraft, but until now, the company's been unable to show it off closer to home," said Hilliard, noting the new air service would change that.

Hilliard said some prior opposition to the short-haul flights had been rooted in the fact that the planes involved would be too noisy, as they ferried in and out of Toronto's island airport.

"Today, on the day the service was announced, [a plane] passed by this building completely unnoticed and unheard," he said.

"The government and the [aircraft] makers hope that fact will be noticed by potential customers when full service begins."

Some of the opposition to seeing so-called STOL flights being operated out of Toronto was rooted in concerns about the noise the planes would make when ferrying passengers in and out of the city. (The National/CBC Archives)

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