GRAVENHURST, ON – Nearly 200 people greeted Porter Airlines’ first scheduled service run from Toronto yesterday.

The flight, full of local dignitaries, was about 30 minutes late due to technical problems the airline experienced in the rest of its network.

Fire trucks from Bracebridge and Gravenhurst provided a water salute to the aircraft. 

It marks the beginning of 10 weeks of summer service to the area but marks the conclusion of a long-term campaign by Muskoka-based tourism marketing agency Explorers Edge to convince Porter Airlines to invest in the district.

President and CEO Robert Deluce commended the work by the firm to bring the holiday service to Muskoka.

“It usually takes a concerted, extended effort to determine if it is really feasible and then further times to find out a way of practically delivering this service,” Deluce said in his remarks to the crowd. “Explorers Edge led a multi-year charge in attracting Porter to Muskoka.”

Gravenhurst Mayor Paul Kelly said he was pleased for the opportunity that is presented by bringing new visitors to the area from across Canada and parts of the United States.

“We have talked about this airport being a gem,” said Kelly. “This day allows us to polish that gem. For everybody here, thank you (Mr. Deluce) for doing this.”

Chairman for the Muskoka Airport Bud Purves noted that having scheduled airline service from Porter is not just a case of a plane landing and dropping off passengers.

“This plane lands here after there is a new parking lot, there is a new electrical system, there is a new safety system. There are new (security) buildings, land from the District made all of that happen. All for my good friend Mr. Deluce.”

Flights arrive from Billy Bishop Airport on Thursday afternoons with return flights on Monday. Holiday weekends push that schedule to Tuesdays. Flights back to Toronto are also available on Thursdays and flights to Muskoka on Monday (or Tuesday in case of holiday weekends)  mornings.