MIAMI – Celebrations are taking place today in Toronto as Porter Airlines (PD) returns to the skies. PD suspended flights 18 months ago amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The regional airline which is based at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) on the Toronto Islands in Toronto, Ontario, is now flying to Montreal (YUL), Ottawa (YOW), and Thunder Bay (YQT). More Canadian destinations, Halifax (YHZ), Quebec City (YQB), St. John’s, NL, (YYT), and Moncton (YSJ) come online within the next ten days while U.S. destinations in Boston (BOS), Chicago (MDW), New York (EWR) and Washington (IAD) return on Sept. 17.
In a press release, Michael Deluce, president and CEO said, “Our passengers and team members have been waiting for this day to arrive. We currently have over 900 team members who have put in countless hours to get everything ready for our return to service. And we are recalling and hiring more every week. Everyone at Porter is looking forward to welcoming passengers back and delivering our distinct style of service again.”
Porter said that it has strengthened its existing standards with a focus on high levels of sanitization in order to protect the health of its passengers and team members.
Also, the airline has introduced a COVID-19 policy for its workers. Each associate must test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to their shift. They can also present evidence that shows they are fully vaccinated.
The Canadian government is likely to announce within days that government-regulated workers must be vaccinated. Porter’s return comes as Canada’s borders opened on Tuesday to international travelers who are fully vaccinated.
Thestar.com notes that the airline sees business travel coming back slowly. Leisure travel, therefore, will be the dominant driver of airline traffic in the near future. This is one reason why PD has signed a deal to purchase up to 80 (30 firm orders, 50 options) new E-195 E2s from Embraer. This aircraft has the range to fly across Canada and also reach many leisure destinations in the US. Currently the Porter fleet boasts 29 De Havilland Dash-8 400s.
“We went into the pandemic with a very strong balance sheet. Out of our 29 aircraft, we wholly owned 26 of them,” said Deluce. “A lot of carriers, including Air Canada, lost billions of dollars. Obviously, our financial plight over the last 18 months is nowhere near that. On a relative basis, we’ve been in a reasonable position.”
Featured image: Porter Airlines C-GKQA Bombardier Dash 8-Q400. photo: Misael Ocasion Hernandez/Airways