Porter Airlines to challenge Air Canada and WestJet

CANADA’s short-haul operator of two-hour flights, Porter Airlines, looks set to compete with the country’s largest two airlines – Air Canada and WestJet – for the longer haul across Canada and beyond to the United States and the Caribbean. Likely destinations include Los Angeles in the US and Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg in Canada, to be reached from its present base in Toronto – Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

Porter chief executive Robert Dekuce said: “It’s now time to spread our wings and look at some destinations that are little further out.”

Porter plans to acquire new and bigger jets – 12 Bombardier CS100 with options for 18 more – which are more powerful, quieter and have a longer range than its current fleet of turbo-props. The order cost C$2.29 billion (US$2.26 billion), and the first of these aircraft will only be available in 2017.

Courtesy Facebook

Courtesy Facebook/Porter Airlines

However, the plan is contingent upon approval by the federal government, the City of Toronto and the Toronto Port Authority to allow the new jets to land and take-off at Billy Bishop. This means extending the airport’s main runway by 168 metres at each end. Additionally, the terminal would have to be expanded to accommodate the new aircraft, and the increased frequencies and loads.

Air Canada and WestJet are enjoying good loads on the main trunk routes, and there is certainly room for increased competition which will provide air travellers with more options.

As for Air Canada, according to spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick, the national airline is seeking access to Billy Bishop as well. Further investments by the authorities should be premised upon opening its doors to other airlines as well.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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