While the City of Longueuil and Saint-Hubert Airport announce their intention to ban commercial flights at night from April 2024, in response to complaints from citizens, the carrier Chrono Aviation threatens to sue them if this measure is implanted.
“If they go ahead, they’re going to have a multi-hundred million dollar lawsuit from us. The file is already in the hands of our prosecutors,” says Dany Gagnon, vice-president of the company.
Since 2019, Chrono Aviation has been operating, from Saint-Hubert, night air links with Baffin Island twice a week, to take workers from an iron mine there. The carrier uses a Boeing 737-200, a very noisy 45-year-old aircraft, because it’s the only one that can land on a gravel runway.
But the take-offs of this device in the middle of the night arouse many complaints from citizens of the sector.
Dany Gagnon says he has a 40-year lease with the airport. His contract with Baffin Land Iron Mine, worth $150 million for five years, expires in April 2024, but is already being renegotiated. He also recalls having invested 50 million for his facilities in Saint-Hubert.
“We chose this airport because there was no curfew and we were promised there never would be,” he said. Otherwise, we would never have invested so much. If we lose our contract and our investment, they’re going to have a historic lawsuit. »
The mayor of Longueuil, Catherine Fournier, and the general manager of the airport, Yanic Roy, announced Thursday at a press conference that they are committed to banning commercial night flights in April 2024.
“In recent years, the issue of night flights has been a major irritant for citizens,” said Ms.me Fournier. So from 2024, we will see the end of commercial night flights, a rule modeled on what is done at Montreal-Trudeau Airport, where night flights are also prohibited. It will be clearly defined, between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. This is a major gain for the quality of life of the region’s population. »
Private planes will however be able to continue to operate at night, said Yanic Roy. We know that planes from hockey teams that come to play games in Montreal and from artists on musical tours, in particular, land and take off in Saint-Hubert at night.
But according to Mr. Roy, these thefts do not generate complaints. “Almost all of the complaints concern the Boeing 737-200, which flies two to three times a week at night. This nuisance will be eliminated in 2024,” he said.
Future contracts to be signed with commercial carriers will stipulate that they cannot use the airport at night, he adds.
Residents of the area will also soon have online access to noise level data at different times of the day.
Public consultations held over the past year on the development of the airport have shown that citizens are not opposed to the increase in the number of flights, but that they care about their quality of life, said indicated Mme Fournier.
Aerospace Innovation Zone
At a press conference, the two partners announced that they were going to work together to develop an aerospace innovation zone at the airport, by making nearly one million square meters of land belonging to the airport available to interested companies. airport and the City.
Rather than betting on the development of commercial flights, they intend to court companies active in the development of green technologies.
Catherine Fournier even spoke of a “historic agreement”, which is part of the Climate Plan that Longueuil is finalizing.
“We have a vision of having a major economic project, the biggest in recent years in Longueuil, which is to develop the aerospace innovation zone in the airport zone,” she said. We already have very, very important players in the territory like Pratt & Whitney and Héroux-Devtek. We want to build this aerospace cluster in the airport sector, leveraging land that already belongs to the airport. It will bring major attractiveness and economic dynamism to the City of Longueuil and the region. »
The École nationale d’aérotechnique (ENA), an institution affiliated with Cégep Édouard-Montpetit which offers training in avionics, aerospace engineering and aircraft maintenance, participates in particular in the Partners’ Table to develop the vision for the development of this area.
The airport has 500,000 square meters of available land that can be leased to businesses in the area. Those of the City total 475,000 square meters; Longueuil is willing to put them up for sale to develop this area.
Yanic Roy revealed at a press conference that the airport still had a terminal project in its boxes, but that we were far from an announcement on this subject.
The airport cannot, for the moment, attract carriers wishing to offer international connections since the Montreal-Trudeau Airport has the exclusivity of these flights in the region.
“A year is a long time! »
The Longueuil Aircraft Anti-Pollution Committee (CAPA-L) believes that the commitment of the mayor and the airport manager to prohibit commercial flights at night is a “step in the right direction”. But citizens would have liked the changes to come into force more quickly.
“A year is a long time! “says Marie-Pierre Brunelle, spokesperson for CAPA-L and resident of the Laflèche district, which adjoins the airport.
“We, what we would like is concrete actions in the short term, she adds. We’ve been experiencing noise since 2019. What we don’t understand is why this plane, which is banned from other airports because it’s too noisy, can land here, in an urban area. »
Mme Brunelle also regrets that nothing has been announced about flight schools, whose planes are constantly flying in the air in the area.
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