Porter Airlines CEO excited to see flights return to northern Ontario
Company grounded since March 2020 looking to make triumphant return to skies
The head of Porter Airlines says the ongoing pandemic, despite delivering a financial hit to the company, has allowed them to focus on work behind the scenes.
Michael Deluce, Porter's president and CEO, said although the airline has been grounded since March 2020, they've used the time to purchase new planes to expand operations.
"Certainly the Canadian aviation space has had a very challenging 16 months, unlike no other time in history," Deluce said. "Porter took steps early on to suspend operations and relative to other carriers, we have fared reasonably well."
That includes the purchase of 80 E-195 Embraer planes, which will run primarily out of Toronto, Halifax, Montreal and Ottawa.
"They will allow Porter to extend its range from eastern Canada to all of North America, Canada, the U.S….Mexico and the Caribbean," he said.
Deluce says other existing aircraft were also refurbished, including the 29 dedicated to Northern Ontario routes, and he anticipates the full roster of flights will begin October 6.
"We have done a complete interior overhaul of those aircraft," he said. "We have brand new seats and we have brand new carpet sidewalls, overhead bins. We've even restored the lavs."
Operations out of northern Ontario will begin a little sooner, September 8 on flights to Billy Bishop airport in Toronto.
"Since our inception, we've served all the major markets in the north, including Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay...and that will continue to be the case as we move forward," he said.
"I think by October 6, we'll have all of our northern Ontario destinations up and running."
Another incentive for returning passengers is the expansion of the airline's payment options, as well as the introduction of ticket financing, Deluce said.
"When Porter returns to the air we'll be seeing the Porter product at its absolute best," he said. "And I think passengers are going to love returning to the skies on Porter."