So long, free espresso.
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is eliminating complimentary beverages such as cappuccino and soft drinks, and snacks including shortbread cookies and almonds after modernizing its main departure lounge. Porter Airlines, the Canadian carrier that operates a majority of flights at Billy Bishop, confirmed the move in a series of Twitter messages Thursday.
“These changes have come about with the new lounge upgrades and the opening of new restaurants and cafes in mid-October,’’ Porter said in one of several Twitter messages to customers. “Passengers have asked for more choices in food and shopping, and these new options address their needs.’’
Porter said it will continue to offer free beer, wine, and snacks aboard its aircraft. The free in-flight beverages, along with snacks in its airport lounges, were a key marketing tool used by Porter when it started a dozen years ago to compete with Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd. Porter now flies to about 20 destinations in the U.S. and Canada, including Boston, Chicago, and Newark, New Jersey.
Billy Bishop, the second-largest airport in Canada’s most populous city, is situated on an island in Toronto’s harbor. Closely held Nieuport Aviation owns and operates the passenger terminal, which was recently refurbished with new restaurants and coffee bars.
Nieuport is offering a complimentary cookie to passengers and water refill stations at Billy Bishop, Porter added. Investors in Nieuport include AGF Management Ltd. and Larry Tanenbaum, part owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team.
“While we appreciate your feedback, Porter does not operate the lounges’’ at Billy Bishop, the airline said in response to a Twitter message from a customer. “They are owned by Nieuport. You can send your thoughts on the new upgrades’’ to the airport owner, Porter said.
Nieuport began operating the terminal in 2015, taking over from Porter. Traffic at Billy Bishop has surged this decade to about 2.8 million passengers last year, from 1.5 million in 2010.
Earlier this month, Nieuport opened three restaurants and three retail stores inside the passenger terminal, while improving the wine selection. About C$50 million ($38 million) has been spent on modernizing the airport in the last few years, according to Rebecca Thompson, a spokeswoman for Nieuport.
“Passengers have long asked for choice,’’ Thompson said by telephone. “Now they have hundreds of options with regards to food, beverage, and shopping.”