Porter Airlines has announced an aggressive expansion plan, one that will see the Toronto-based regional airline start flying new routes out of Canada’s biggest airport to destinations farther away than the airline has ever flown before.
The airline, whose base of operations is at Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island, has announced new routes flying out of the city’s Pearson airport.
For the first time ever, Porter will offer flights from Toronto to Vancouver — the longest route the airline has offered in its 16-year history. The route has been made possible because of the airline’s recent acquisition of 50 Embraer E195-E2 jets.
Flights are slated to begin in February and round-trip fares will start at $248, the airline said in a statement.
In addition to Vancouver, Porter is also adding two new routes out of Pearson to Ottawa and Montreal, also on the Embraer jets. While Porter’s traditional fleet of turboprops have a complimentary snack service, the new jets and routes will come with familiar air-travel perks, like Wi-FI and a meal service.
The flights out of Pearson to Ottawa and Montreal will start at $225, with all fees and taxes included, the airline said.
“Porter’s introduction of the E195-E2 provides the ability to operate throughout North America, including the West Coast, better positioning us to serve the needs of many more business and leisure passengers,” Porter CEO Michael Deluce said in a statement.
Previous expansion plans
Porter had previously tried to scale up from a small regional airline by ordering several dozen CSeries jets from Bombardier, which would have allowed it to offer long-range flights to places as far away as western Europe and the Caribbean.
But those plans were scuppered when various levels of government refused to allow the runway at the downtown Toronto Island airport to be expanded to handle the larger jets.
Frederic Dimanche, a professor who teaches tourism management at Toronto Metropolitan University, says the timing could be right for such a plan, as travel demand has rebounded to about what it was before the pandemic
The airline has said previously it wants to expand, especially to the U.S., and to do that they need to start going to larger airports, with jets instead of the turboprops they use right now.
“They’re not going to be opening 10 or 15 destination in the U.S. plus 10 or 15 new destinations in Canada, I think they will do it little by little,” he said in an interview Thursday. “They will continue to do business on a pace that they know can be sustainable.”