DALLAS — Porter Airlines (PD) granted Airways and selected industry media an exclusive opportunity to tour its newly introduced Embraer E195-E2 aircraft at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) on Monday, November 6, 2023.
On October 23, 2023, the airline celebrated its 17th anniversary. In 2023, PD marked significant milestones. Notably, the airline introduced the Embraer E195-E2 jet, commenced flights at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (YYZ), and expanded its flight offerings at Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW).
In the past year alone, the airline has successfully recruited over 1,000 new team members and received the delivery of 22 brand-new E195-E2s. With these additions, the fleet has grown to a total of 51 aircraft, including 29 Dash 8 aircraft. Additionally, the carrier has unveiled plans for 26 new routes and introduced service to 14 new destinations.
These remarkable advancements have enabled the carrier to expand its network across Canada, connecting coast to coast, while also venturing into significant markets within the United States. The firsthand experience of one of the airline’s new E2 jets at FLL serves as a testament to these achievements.
The aircraft, with the registration C-GKQN, is scheduled to be utilized on the airline’s recently announced route from Fort Lauderdale to Toronto, beginning on November 30. On Monday morning, the E2 jet arrived at FLL while undergoing functional and reliability testing (FnR), also known as route proving. This testing campaign involves demonstration runs to ensure that airline crews are proficient in operating the new commercial aircraft.
Upon our arrival at Terminal 4 and subsequent visit to the apron and aircraft stand, we had the unique opportunity to explore both the four-abreast interior and the immaculate exterior of the new E195 aircraft.
During this time, we engaged in discussions with Brad Cicero, the Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Porter Airlines; Andre Cavalca, the Regional Marketing Director at Embraer Commercial Aviation; and Arlene Satchell, the Public Information Officer for Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International and North Perry airports (BCAD).
Standing out from the Crowd
Porter Airlines takes pride in being the first airline in North America to introduce Embraer’s latest lineup of E2 jets. The specific aircraft being discussed has a seating capacity of 132 passengers and boasts a two-by-two configuration, ensuring that there are no middle seats on any of Porter Airlines’ flights using this aircraft model.
The E2 aircraft family has obtained certification that meets the most stringent international standards for aircraft noise, with noise levels reduced by 65% compared to previous-generation aircraft. As a result, these jets are currently the quietest and most efficient single-aisle aircraft available.
When it comes to providing an exceptional passenger experience, Mr. Cicero emphasized that while maintaining competitive pricing is important, it is equally crucial for the carrier to have a unique identity. He clarified that PD is neither a low-cost carrier nor a regional airline, highlighting the airline’s commitment to offering a distinctive and memorable travel experience.
A Premium Economy Experience
Porter Airlines offers an all-economy product that stands out in the market. According to the PD executive, this approach attracts customers who are looking to get the most value for their money, even if they originally intended to book a first-class or premium product. Mr. Cicero added that the overall experience the PD offered was very comparable, with the only noticeable difference being the type of network the carrier provided.
With its new E195-E2 jets, however, the airline has the flexibility to fly to almost any destination in North America. Apart from the five Floridian destinations listed below, PD, headquartered at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YZT), is making further headway into Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.
Regarding the specifics of the in-flight service, all PD passengers are treated to complimentary amenities such as free WiFi provided by ViaSat, a variety of premium snacks, and complimentary beer and wine served in glassware. Furthermore, the airline offers a range of options to enhance the overall travel experience.
Porter’s customers also have the opportunity to avail themselves of priority check-in, select extra legroom seats (with no middle bars under the E195 seats), indulge in premium pre-mixed cocktails, and savor fresh and healthy meals. These options can be enjoyed as part of the all-inclusive PorterReserve fares or can be separately purchased with PorterClassic fares.
So, in a nutshell, as the Canadian airline expands its presence in Eastern Canada and continues to grow in North America, it remains steadfast in providing high-quality service without compromising on cost-cutting measures.
What Do Customers Think?
Martyn Holmes, the Chief Commercial Officer of Embraer Commercial Aviation, recently said that the E195-E2 was the carrier’s preferred aircraft to fulfill its main objective—with an order for 50 E195-E2 jets and an option for 50 more, PD can deliver on its mission to provide a superior travel experience.
Mr. Cicero was keen to point out that the airline took pride in its exceptional levels of customer satisfaction, with more than 80% of customers expressing positive feedback. He further emphasized that achieving a net promoter score in the range of 60 is a noteworthy achievement for the company.
The communications director also highlighted that when Porter Airlines consistently provides a dependable product and maintains a robust network, the levels of customer satisfaction can soar even higher, reaching the “70s and sometimes even the 80s with promoter scores.” Achieving such remarkable levels of customer satisfaction is noteworthy for an airline.
Andre Cavalca, the Regional Marketing Director at Embraer Commercial Aviation, echoed this sentiment and shared an anecdote from Portland. He described a unique sight where passengers were seen disembarking with cheerful expressions, which is not a common occurrence in the airline industry.
Economics of the E195-E2 Jet
Embraer envisions the E2 aircraft family making significant strides in the US market by targeting regional airlines and taking over from mainline aircraft like the aging Airbus 319-700s, which will eventually require replacement. According to Mr. Cavalca, this presents a substantial opportunity for the E2 jet.
The representative of the third-largest planemaker in the world further explained that low-cost carriers are currently dominating the market for large narrowbody aircraft but will eventually need to differentiate themselves. He cited Frontier’s recent investor relations report, in which the low-cost carrier acknowledged facing fierce competition on its planned routes, as an example.
Embraer CEO Francisco Gomes Neto told Reuters yesterday in an interview that breaking into the US market with the E2 jet was an important step for the planemaker to improve its production mix. The CEO noted that in 2023, for the first time, there will be more second-generation E2 jets delivered than first-generation ones.
Porter’s flights using the E195 to the West Coast and South Florida play a crucial role in showcasing the E2 to US airlines. Rather than being viewed solely as a regional plane, the E2 is presented as a small, narrow-body aircraft that mainline carriers can operate with efficiency.
Mr. Neto highlighted KLM (KL) and Azul Brazilian Airlines (AD) as examples of airlines that have successfully operated both the E195-E2 and larger narrow-body aircraft like the Airbus A320. He also emphasized the high efficiency and profitability of the E195-E2, even when operating at an 80% load factor. This is an important data point that Embraer wants major US airlines to take notice of.
Comparing the E2 Family with Its Counterparts
Porter Airlines views the E2 aircraft as a key factor in setting itself apart from other carriers by focusing on smaller market segments, thereby avoiding direct competition. It is therefore logical that the Canadian airline opted for the E195, as it allows them to establish a unique position within this segment.
In comparing the E2 jet with other aircraft that share similar principles, Mr. Cavalca highlights that while the A321 is essentially a stretched version of the A320 and offers the best cost-per-seat within that family, Embraer’s E2 jet boasts the greatest level of stretching, resulting in it being “the four-abreast aircraft with the highest capacity you’re going to see flying.”
Additionally, the E2 jet presents a notable benefit in terms of cost competitiveness per seat. Embraer specifically designed the E195 to be comparable to larger aircraft such as the A320neo or the Boeing 737-8, even when carrying 132 passengers like the E195-E2 at FLL.
In short, these jets enable airlines to operate in diverse market segments and sizes without the need to impose extra charges due to high seat costs. This is the potential of the E2 jet, as carriers can provide a greater frequency of flights throughout the day, explore new routes, and launch them with greater ease.
The E195-E2’s Range, Type Commonality
The E2’s competitive pricing not only stimulates the market and attracts more passengers by providing cost-effective seating options but also offers considerable capabilities in terms of its range. According to Mr. Cicero, this flexibility to operate in various locations is a compelling reason for PD’s acquisition of the Embraer aircraft.
Porter has specific plans to expand its operations from eastern Canada to include transcontinental flights, with the ultimate goal of establishing a comprehensive network across North America.
In terms of pilot training, the E2 aircraft offers a common type rating with the E1 variant, simplifying the training process. Pilots transitioning from the E1 to the E2 only require a two-and-a-half-day training session to familiarize themselves with the differences between the two models, eliminating the need for simulator (SIM) time.
This streamlined training process enables pilots to adapt quickly to the new aircraft without extensive retraining. It allows for direct entry from the E1 or other aircraft types, as well as for pilots transitioning from the Dash 8.
E2 Delivery Timeframe
During this stage of the discussion, Mr. Cavalca emphasized Embraer’s support for the Canadian airline and highlighted the manufacturer’s substantial presence in the US, including its largest parts inventory located in Fort Lauderdale. PD’s connection to FLL enhances the servicing efforts and parts transportation to other destinations, such as Toronto.
The Embraer director expressed confidence in PD as an excellent partner for the Brazilian manufacturer’s entry into the North American market and acknowledged the airline’s impressive growth.
The significant number of aircraft orders from the Canadian airline represents a major milestone for Embraer. Mr. Cavalca confirmed that delivery of the initial 50 aircraft was scheduled to be completed by the end of next year, averaging around two deliveries per month.
Porter’s Foray into South Florida
Starting on November 1, Tampa became the first destination among the five new cities and seven routes that PD will be launching in Florida. The service includes flights from Toronto Pearson to Tampa, Fort Myers (RSW), Orlando (MCO), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), and Miami (MIA). Additionally, there will be flights from Ottawa International Airport (YOW) to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
At the time, Kevin Jackson, the executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Porter Airlines, emphasized that Canadians, who make up the largest group of international travelers to Florida, now have the option to fly with an airline that prioritizes style, care, and charm in every aspect of the flight experience. With Porter Airlines, the vacation experience begins as soon as passengers step inside the aircraft.
Arlene Satchell, the Public Information Officer at FLL, expressed her excitement at welcoming a new international carrier to the airport. She eagerly anticipated the official arrival of the airline on November 30, with service to Ottawa and Toronto, and looked forward to establishing a beneficial and long-lasting relationship. Witnessing the arrival of the plane and seeing passengers onboard brought her great joy.
This development has a positive impact on revenue generation for the airport. Mr. Cavalca concluded the conversation by mentioning that during the holiday season, there will be days with two daily flights operated by the airline. This addition was not part of the original schedule but was implemented to accommodate increased demand and provide more capacity.
Despite having operated for nearly two decades, the airline manages to maintain a sense of novelty and freshness. According to aviation analyst Rohan Anand, who will be featured on this week’s episode of The Airways Podcast, the airline’s niche service in travel commerce, which includes the ability to book flights on hotels and take advantage of the airline’s loyalty program, makes flying with PD a “cool experience.”
We can be confident that the Canadian airline will continue to provide a distinctive and enjoyable travel experience with its comfortable and environmentally friendly E2 jets, as well as its exceptional passenger amenities and services. These aspects are not expected to change, especially considering the airline’s expansion in North America.
As for Embraer, its US headquarters are located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where it established a facility in 1979. With the connection between Brazil and Canada through Fort Lauderdale, exciting possibilities come to mind for future partnerships in the Americas, including with Azul Brazilian Airlines (AD), one of Embraer’s key customers for the E2 family, and even JetBlue (B6).
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Featured image: Embraer E195-E2 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). Photo: Helwing Villamizar/Airways