Fredericton, Saint John airports land Porter Airlines service to Ottawa, Toronto

Toronto-based Porter Airlines has announced plans to begin flying to Saint John and Fredericton in September.

Afternoon flights offered by Porter starting in September will land at airport near Toronto downtown

Porter Airlines, based at the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, says it will add flights between two New Brunswick cities, Fredericton and Saint John, to Ottawa and Toronto starting in September. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Toronto-based Porter Airlines has announced plans to begin flying to two more New Brunswick destinations.

Flights to Fredericton are scheduled to begin Sept. 12 and flights to Saint John are to start Sept. 21.

We're happy to have the entire province covered as far as the three major markets, as of this September.- Brad Cicero, Porter Airlines

The service will include direct flights to Ottawa, which will continue on the same aircraft to the Billy Bishop airport near downtown Toronto.

One-way fares from Fredericton to Toronto start at $143, the airline said.

Ottawa may be a stop along the way, but a ticket there will cost slightly more, $154.

The rates from Saint John start at $155 to Toronto and to Ottawa at $160.

Departure times will be during the afternoon.

Only Air Canada has regular flights from Saint John to Toronto. Both Moncton and Fredericton also have WestJet service.

Already in Moncton

Porter has been flying to Moncton since 2010. 

"It's been consistently very good for us," Porter spokesperson Brad Cicero said of the route.

"We're happy to have the entire province covered as far as the three major markets, as of this September."

Porter is known for serving complimentary wine and beer on board its flights.

Cicero said the airline hopes to appeal to business and leisure customers with the new Fredericton and Saint John flights. The airline's vacations division is working on tourism package deals, he said.

Feels it can be competitive

When asked why the timing was right for this expansion, Cicero said the company felt it was able to offer competitive prices and has the aircraft and other necessary resources to do it.

All Porter flights are on Bombardier Q400s with a 74-seat configuration.

We're really very much in an expansion mode.- Derrick Stanford, Saint John Airport CEO

​Johanne Gallant, the president and CEO of the Fredericton Airport, said those are the same planes now being used by Air Canada and WestJet in the region.

Gallant said the Porter deal was about five years in the making. There is a lot of demand for flights between Fredericton and Ottawa for government business, and companies such as McCain Foods do a lot of travel between Fredericton and Toronto.

WestJet and Air Canada already fly between Fredericton and Ontario, but Gallant said the new flights will appeal to those looking for afternoon departures.

The Saint John airport is hoping the new flights will boost traffic, after flat passenger numbers in recent years.

"Our airport suffers quite a bit of leakage," said president and CEO Derrick Stanford, referring to people from the area who choose to fly out of neighbouring airports.

This will be the first regular service to Saint John by a carrier other than Air Canada since 2011, when WestJet left. 

Saint John is ambitious

The airport went through a period of uncertainty under a few CEOs in quick succession, said Stanford.

"We've moved away from sort of a caretaker mode," said Stanford. "And we're really very much in an expansion mode.

"We want this airport to be a vital economic, a vital tourism link and it's going to help Saint John grow as well."

Stanford said there is no municipal, provincial or federal money in the Saint John deal.

Fredericton, however, is going to be spending an undisclosed amount of money to market the new flights, according to the city's communications manager, Wayne Knorr.

Neither Porter nor airport officials would disclose details of the agreements.