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Porter Increases Capacity in Canada-Florida Market

The Canadian airline expands its offering to include 14 routes to nine airports in Florida.

Porter Airlines’ Embraer 195-E2 (Photo: Embraer)

Toronto-based Porter Airlines has announced its decision to bet big on a very crowded market. Each winter millions of Canadian travel South from the Eastern cities to reach Florida either to grab a few days of sunshine or to reach their second home and escape the cold and snow back home.

Porter’s timetable will offer up to 124 weekly flights between Canada and Florida, 14 routes, six destinations in The Sunshine State (Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and West Palm Beach) from four Canadian airports (Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto-Pearson).

“We experienced a strong response to our Florida service last winter,” says Porter Airlines’ President Kevin Jackson in a press release. ”Now, we’re providing our passengers with substantially more flight options to meet their Florida travel plans this winter, including departures from four major Canadian airports. What differentiates the Porter experience is our emphasis on style, care and charm. We provide an elevated economy experience that is unmatched in North America.”

The E2 Expansion Continues

Founded in 2006 and based at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport located on an island in front of Downtown Toronto, Porter Airlines has been forced to operate turboprop aircraft (De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400) due to the noise restriction imposed by the city of Toronto given the close proximity of the airport to a large population.

In 2015, the Federal Government struck down their proposal to lift the jet ban from the airport and to extend the runway so they could start operating Bombardier C-Series aircraft (now the Airbus A220). Porter had to go back to the drawing board and decided to start flying from Toronto Pearson and to order 75 Embraer E195-E2 aircraft so they could reach destinations farther away.

In 2023, the airline started operating the next-generation Embraer aircraft and were able to reach the West Coast for the first time entering, among others, the lucrative Toronto-Vancouver market, which is now seeing increased competition with Porter and low-cost airline Flair compete with the incumbents Air Canada and WestJet.

With this decisive move to attack the Florida market, Porter Airlines will compete head-to-head not only with the flag carrier Air Canada and the low-cost airline Flair, but also with the leisure carriers Sunwings and Air Transat, with the latter able to deploy considerable capacity in those markets with Airbus A321 and A330 aircraft.

Focus on a Premium Experience

“Passengers will travel in a style unlike any carrier serving this market, with Porter’s elevated economy experience onboard the 132-seat Embraer E195-E2,” says the press release announcing the expansion in Florida. “With a two-by-two configuration, there are no middle seats on any flight. Free premium snacks and free beer and wine, served in glassware, are included in every fare. Passengers also enjoy free, fast WiFi, with speeds capable of supporting the use of multiple devices and the ability to curate your own entertainment through personal streaming subscriptions. Priority check-in, extra legroom seats, premium pre-mixed cocktails, and fresh, healthy meals are also available with the all-inclusive PorterReserve fare or for purchase à la carte with PorterClassic.”

The lower noise and CO2 emissions of the new generation Embraer jet, as well as their commitment to a higher standard of service, will be needed to lure customers away from the perks of Air Canada’s frequent flier status or the rock bottom fares provided by ULCC Flair Airlines.

The strength of Sunwings and Air Transat in the package holiday business, still very popular among Canadian sun-bound vacationers, will constitute a challenge for Porter that will not be able to attack their competitors on schedule convenience: at best Porter will offer a double-daily service on the Toronto-Fort Lauderdale or Toronto-Tampa routes, against the sometimes 5, 6 or more daily connections of the competition.

However, their superior level of service could sit very nicely with the affluent Canadian wishing to fly South in style without having to break the bank to splurge on a Business Class seat.

Vanni Gibertini

Author

  • Vanni Gibertini

    Vanni fell in love with commercial aviation during his undergraduate studies in Statistics at the University of Bologna, when he prepared his thesis on the effects of deregulation on the U.S. and European aviation markets. Then he pursued his passion further by obtaining a Master’s Degree in Air Transport Management at Cranfield University in the U.K. followed by holding several management positions at various start-up carriers in Europe (Jet2, SkyEurope, Silverjet). After moving to Canada, he was Business Development Manager for IATA for nine years before turning to his other passion: sports writing.

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