Finance

Canada’s Porter Plans Broader Network with Embraer Purchase

Canada’s Porter Airlines plans to build a “continental route network” starting next year with a new aircraft order from Embraer that will at least double its fleet.

The order, valued at US$5.82 billion under current list prices, includes the firm commitment for 30 Embraer E195-E2 aircraft and the option for up to 50 more. The aircraft, for which Porter is the North American launch customer, can seat up to 146 passengers and has a range that can reach coast-to-coast in Canada and the United States as well as to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean.

Porter began operations in 2006 and currently has a fleet of about 29 De Havilland Dash 8-400 turboprops, with which it built a network out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. With the new aircraft, expected to enter the carrier’s service starting in the second half of 2022, Porter plans to introduce flights out of Toronto’s main airport, Pearson International Airport, and operate flights out of Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax as well, adding “dozens of new North American cities” to its network, according to Porter Airlines president and CEO Michael Deluce.

“We believe that now is the right time to make this investment as the pandemic resets the aviation landscape,” he said in a statement. “Adding a diverse selection of popular business and leisure destinations to our network means that we are better positioned to serve the needs of many more passengers.”

Porter said it would announce specific routes later. The agreement also includes the rights to convert purchases into smaller Embraer E190-E2 aircraft, with which Porter could add nonstop service between markets with no current direct service or add frequencies on high-demand routes.

The E2 aircraft will not operate out of Billy Bishop Airport, but Porter will continue to operate its turboprop fleet out of the airport as a core part of its business, according to the carrier.

“Our commitment to Billy Bishop Airport is not changing,” Porter founder and executive chairman Robert Deluce, Michael’s father, said in a statement. “Our corporate headquarters at Billy Bishop is being maintained, and we will continue serving the same network of regional markets from downtown Toronto. We are moving beyond this existing footprint to welcome more travelers across North America.”

Porter’s services have been suspended since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the carrier this month announced it will resume service on Sept. 8 to several Canadian destinations and then to Boston, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17. Its parent company, Porter Aviation Holdings, in late June reached an agreement with the Canadian government for up to C$270.5 million in loans to help re-establish operations, including $20.5 million dedicated to refunding passengers who had canceled flights during the pandemic.

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