It was not the most auspicious launch. At 7am on Monday last week, 20 hardy travellers hopped aboard a small commuter jet at Toronto Island Airport for the 55-minute, inaugural flight to Ottawa. The 20 passengers represented less than one-third of the plane's capacity. As they boarded the small ferry near the downtown core, they were jeered by about an equal number of island residents, who don't want a busy little airport in their backyard. Adding extra insult, the 60-second ferry ride that Porter Airlines was touting as a modest inconvenience took close to 10 minutes that morning. Mother Nature had whipped up a bit of chop herself. Most start-up airlines hit the tarmac in full promotion mode, with all the sizzle and passenger giveaways they can muster. Porter kind of crept out of the gate, weighed down by melodrama. Go back three years: Porter was all set to revitalize Toronto's Island Airport, a forlorn little terminus that has seen many other commercial ventures come and go over the past 30 years. Where others failed, though, Porter had somehow convinced both the federal government in Ottawa, and Toronto City Hall, to back its venture with that key ingredient - a bridge spanning the 300 or so metres from the island to the mainland. Then along came the new broom. Three years ago, David Miller became Toronto's new mayor. A Harvard-educated reformer, Mayor Miller had two over-arching priorities: clean out the lobbyists and kill the island airport. This last he went at with almost jet-fuelled abandon. Within days of the new council being sworn in, Toronto withdrew its support for the island bridge. But then, this being Canada and, sadly, this being Toronto - a political playground for many levels of government - the wheel turned again. The airport is run by an agency of the national government, the Toronto Port Authority, under the Transport Department. After seemingly endless wrangling, it gave a final go-ahead to Porter's plans last month. The timing was terrible for Mayor Miller: the inaugural flight came smack in the middle of his current re-election campaign. An island, you'd think, would be the ideal place for an airport: the noise and air pollution is far from communities. Toronto's international airport is a first-class facility, and an island of sorts - it is surrounded by totally clogged 12-lane expressways and suburban sprawl that spreads almost 100km in every direction. Porter's launch has jabbed a thorn in the mayor's side. 'Couldn't do what he promised, could he?' the critics are merrily saying. But some islands are worth saving, and Toronto Island in Lake Ontario is a gem of parkland with a small, tightly knit community. Some sort of fast-train solution, to ease the hideous commute from the main airport, might keep everyone happy - except Porter, that is.