Vol de nuit 201

Toronto Pearson operates around-the-clock, seven days a week. Of the approximately 1,100 flights taking off and landing at Toronto Pearson daily, 3 per cent – or an average of 36 flights a night - occur between 12:30 a.m. and 06:30 a.m. We call these night flights.

This first phase of our Outreach Site focuses on the steps we take to manage the number of flights at night, how we work to mitigate their impact, as well as details around our proposal to get a modest increase the number of flights that are allowed to fly at night.

Our vision for the future

In 2010, we set a new course to clearly differentiate Toronto Pearson from our continental competitors by becoming North America's premier gateway.

We know that we’re the first and last impression of the Greater Toronto Area for the 32 million passengers who travel through our airport each year. We want to ensure that we offer them a warm welcome and a smooth and relaxing travel experience while showcasing the best of what this region has to offer.

One of the keys to helping us achieve our vision is the dynamism and vibrancy of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Thousands of people arrive in the GTA each year in pursuit of jobs, educations and promising future for themselves and their families. As a result, the very fabric of our region has changed; people who were once from a myriad of cultures and nations across the globe are now our neighbours, classmates, colleagues and friends.

Becoming a premier global hub means better connections for you and your neighbours to places across the globe for business and leisure travel. It means easier access to international markets, along with more tourism opportunities. It means more efficient movement of goods around the globe. It also means great things for our community, including increased job opportunities at not only Toronto Pearson, but throughout the region and country too.

Already, we’re making progress towards achieving our vision. We have an award-winning facility, proven talent and expertise, a strong and dynamic Regional economy, and a diverse and large critical mass of travelers that comes with being Canada’s largest city. Plus, we have better on-time performance and quicker connections than many other airports.

Here are some other interesting facts about the amazing things happening at our airport every day:

  • We currently move 85,000 people a day on approximately 1,100 flights and have the capacity to move more than 38 million guests each year.
  • Toronto Pearson’s airline partners fly to more than 180 destinations worldwide.
  • We facilitate 33 per cent of the total air traffic within Canada and 50 per cent of the total air cargo within Canada.
  • 185,000 jobs are connected to the airport.

Our night flights story

Everyday we have a limited number of night flights that takeoff and land at Toronto Pearson between the hours of 12:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. In 2011 there was an average of 36 night flights a night during these hours, which is about 3 per cent of our total number of flights daily.

So why do we have these flights? Not only are they critical in helping travellers reach their destinations and get home again, they also ensure important goods and services are delivered on time – and that’s before we take into account uncontrollable situations, such as inclement weather, Medevac landings and police operations. They are also required to serve the ever evolving and changing travel requirements of our Canadian and global guests.

In the sections below, you will learn more about what is driving the demand for more flights at night, as well as the steps that we take to manage night flights and mitigate the impact.

The need for night flights

Year-after-year the Toronto Region is growing and becoming more global in nature. This is reflected in the very fabric of our region; people who were once from a myriad of cultures and nations across the globe are now our neighbours, classmates, colleagues, business partners and friends.

As a result, we are seeing an increase in air traffic, both passenger and cargo traffic. It’s our responsibility to do everything we can to accommodate this demand for aviation services and keep our economy moving.

To give you an idea of how much increase in demand we’re facing, consider this: in 2010, the total number of aircraft taking off and landing at Toronto Pearson during regular and nighttime hours increased by 2.7 % on the previous year to 418,000. And at the end of this current year, we expect to see this number go up even more.

In 2011, Toronto Pearson had on average 36 flights per night, which accounts for 3% of the total numbers of flights per day. We work diligently to manage these night flights to ensure that only those flights that are required to operate a night are allowed to fly during the night hours.

So why do planes need to arrive and depart at night? Quite simply, as our world becomes more connected, there’s a greater demand for flights to take off and land with travellers and goods between 12:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. And this demand is increasing at a much greater rate than demand for flights at other times of the day.

The driving factors behind this demand include: 

  • The needs of Greater Toronto Area's (GTA) ethnically diverse population and the growing demand for connections with emerging markets. 
  • The size of the GTA , which is growing and getting stronger.
  • New aircraft technologies have transformed one-stop journeys into non-stop and flights are arriving at different hours, changing how people and goods are moving around the globe. 
  • The demand for sun destination travel.
  • Partnerships and alliances between air carriers are changing flight and connection options. We’re proud that more travellers and airlines are choosing Toronto Pearson. And we remain dedicated to meeting that growing demand while still being a good neighbour by working to engage and support our surrounding communities.

Managing night flights

Currently the number of night flights we’re able to offer is controlled– and this is something Toronto Pearson supports.

The number of flights permitted each year is controlled by an arrangement with Transport Canada, the department within the Canadian government responsible for developing polices and services for transportation in this country.

Under this arrangement, the number of night flights that can operate at Toronto Pearson is linked to the number of passengers who travel through the airport in a given year. The night flight year runs from November 1st to October 31st.

Known as “the budget”, each year we estimate how many passengers we expect to travel through the airport. The number of night flights that are allowed to takeoff and land in a year is increased by the percentage growth in passengers; for example, if passengers grow by 5 per cent, then the budget grows by 5 per cent.

This means that, on average, our budget for night flights gradually increases each year as we see more and more people travelling through Toronto Pearson.

We also reserve approximately 20 per cent of our budgeted flights to allow for situations outside of our control, such as:

  • Weather delays
  • Medevac flights
  • Military and police operations

Toronto Pearson supports the use of a measurable nighttime budget management system. We believe that having a cap on the number of flights at night is a balanced and responsible approach to serving the demand for aviation services, and respects the fact that night flights may also impact our neighbours.

We work diligently to keep our operations within the budget, though this has meant, we have had to turn away business that would otherwise be of benefit economically for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), as well as potentially limiting the number of connections for business and leisure travellers.

Managing noise

Toronto Pearson has a number of rules and procedures specific to our airport to minimize our impact on our neighbours, with some measures specific to night operations.

But before we delve into more detail, we first have to talk about weather.

Atmospheric conditions or air pressure. such as air temperature, humidity or cloud cover, can affect how loud a plane sounds. Atmospheric pressure can also account for why noise from the airport seems louder on some days than others.

To help manage the noise from airports in Canada, NAV Canada – the organization that manages air traffic control in Canada – publishes the Canada Air Pilot (CAP) which outlines noise abatement procedures to reduce the impact of noise that must be followed by all pilots when taking off or landing at a Canadian airport.

In addition to these procedures, Toronto Pearson has a number of operating restrictions specific to our airport to minimize noise impact on our neighbours.

For example, we use a nighttime preferential runway system from 12:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. using flight paths intended to travel over the least number of residential neighbourhoods. Use of these runways can vary based on wind and weather conditions, construction or other special requirements.

Also, aircraft operating today have become much quieter, and only the quietest aircraft operate in the nighttime hours.

Thanks to a number of these efforts, the noise footprint around Toronto Pearson has reduced significantly.

To learn more about our noise management activities, please visit our Noise Management page.