Enterprise Air to “double” flight training at Oshawa Airport unless runway extension approved

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Published July 21, 2023 at 12:37 pm

Enterprise Air wants to put more ‘executive’ into the Oshawa Executive Airport and less flight training, a goal shared by their landlords, the City of Oshawa, and by nearby residents who have been complaining of the noise generated by the pilot schools for decades.

Manny Rosario, Enterprise Air’s Chair, is of the impression the City is pushing for more flight training activity, however, and sent a letter to Council “pleading” with all councillors to allow them to reduce the amount of flight training while transitioning to the “much quieter” corporate flight activity.

“Based on councillors’ position and action, or lack thereof, we will be doubling the size of our flight school fleet.”

Rosario, who co-founded Enterprise with Brian Burchartz in 1994, warned Council they are in the early stages of negotiations with a flight school interested in moving operations to Oshawa.

“We do not wish to further disrupt the surrounding airport neighbours. Please remember that lack of action on your part is a vote to continue and expand flight training” at the airport, he said, while declaring his message to councillors was not a “threat.”

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter called Rosario’s letter a “negotiating tactic” for the City to speed up the process of approving an extended runway to allow for more corporate flights, especially with the impending closure of Buttonville Airport in Markham this fall.

“We know exactly what he’s trying to do here,” Carter said. “He’s trying to squeeze us because Buttonville is closing in November.”

More corporate flights and less flight training at airport is a dream of both sides in the debate, despite Rosario’s comments in his letter, which was supposed to be dealt with at the June 26 Council meeting but has been pushed forward to September.

“We do not believe that additional flight training is the correct future direction for the Oshawa Executive Airport. Yet we find ourselves with no other choice but to expand our Flight School,” Rosario said, citing resolutions made in 2012 by Council and by Tito-Dante Marimpietri, who chaired the Development Services Committee at the time. “We do not understand why a Chair for the Development Services Committee and a Ward Councillor remain of the opinion that flight training Is a good future for the Oshawa Airport.”

“We are requesting the council direction be cancelled and amended to allow for a quieter and less obtrusive activity, such as corporate operations,” he added. “We feel that this is infinitely preferred over the repetitive circuit activity involved with Flight Training.”

Carter, however, said Rosario is clearly aware Oshawa does not want an expansion of flight training at the airport. “He knows that’s not our desire.”

An Action Plan on the airport’s future approved in 2021, in fact, cited 14 future ‘actions,’ including one to “market the airport as an Executive Airport” and several others relating to “restricting Flight Training Schools.” The current Council has done nothing to change that goal, the Mayor noted.

As far as approving runway extensions, Carter said there is a process in place that can’t be rushed.  “I think what Manny is trying to do as a business is expedite the runway. But we can’t do that – there’s a process, and it includes public consultation.”

There’s also the matter of ongoing litigation with the Canadian Flight Academy, which is also located at the Oshawa Executive Airport.

Nearby residents in Oshawa and in Whitby have been expressing concerns about the noise from the airport for years, with public complaints spiking recently. Complaints increased six-fold in 2021 from a decade prior, for example, while the actual traffic at the airport has increased only about 25 per cent.

Three-quarters of all flights at the airport are for flight training.

Carter has long acknowledged the airport is a “significant engine” for economic growth in Oshawa and Durham Region, adding that the City is committed to its operation until 2047.

Enterprise Airlines have begun preparing for the new business that is coming from the Buttonville closure with the construction of an additional 30,000 square foot hangar at the airport, which will be used for airplane storage and for use by a Buttonville maintenance company coming to Oshawa.

Rosario has been contacted to clarify his comments for this story but has not returned calls.

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