Thunder Bay

Porter Airlines to suspend all flights, temporarily lay off crew based in Thunder Bay

Porter Airlines will suspend all commercial flights after Friday, which will result in temporary layoffs for all of the company's crew members based in Thunder Bay.

Porter Airlines said the suspension of flights will cause temporary layoffs for all local crew members

Porter Airlines is temporarily suspending flights to support COVID-19 relief efforts. (CBC)

Porter Airlines will suspend all commercial flights after Friday, which will result in temporary layoffs for all of the company's crew members based in Thunder Bay.

The airline on Wednesday announced the suspension, which it said is meant to aid COVID-19 containment efforts, with flights expected to be grounded until June 1.

"COVID-19 is having an unprecedented effect on people around the world and Porter is determined to do our part to support the efforts of the Canadian, U.S. and global authorities in their responses," said company president and CEO Michael Deluce in a written statement.

"Restricting activities by people in all communities is what's required to keep our team members and passengers healthy, and ultimately to end this fast-spreading pandemic."

The airline, which sees seven daily flights between the Thunder Bay International Airport and Toronto, said remaining flights through Friday will allow customers to complete existing trips to return home, or make last-minute reservations to reach a destination.

Porter Airlines will temporarily ground all flights starting after Friday, until June 1. (David Donnelly/CBC) (David Donnelly/CBC)

According to the airline, the existing waiver of change and cancellation fees means there is no cost to customers for modifying an existing itinerary.

Suspension of service will impact all Thunder Bay staff

The suspension of services is expected to result in temporary layoffs across the business.

Airline spokesperson Brad Cicero said the suspension will impact all crew members in Thunder Bay.

"We are doing everything possible to support our team during this period and intend to welcome back all of our team members to Porter, as operations restart," said Cicero in a statement to CBC. "Certain components of health benefits are being maintained and paid for by the company during the temporary layoff period. Access to our Employee Assistance Program and other wellness programs are also available, in addition to government support."
 
Cicero said numbers are being finalized, but the majority of team members will be affected. He said layoffs will start on Friday, and will be gradually recalled to their roles as the airline restarts and flight schedules build to pre-crisis levels. 

In 2018, the airline company established a crew base in the city of Thunder Bay with nearly 30 pilots and flight attendants. In 2019 the company announced the opening of a maintenance base in the city, which was expected to create 18 news jobs.

Airline officials added that they are prepared to help recovery efforts by operating flights to support the movement of government officials, public health requirements and economic recovery efforts. 

For a comprehensive list of cancellations and closures in the region visit CBC Thunder Bay's page dedicated to Coronavirus Local Updates.

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