Porter Airlines spreads its wings

After Canadian airlines followed up a disastrous summer with a somehow even more disastrous holiday season full of cancelled flights and luggage ending up in donation bins, the bar is looking pretty low for Porter Airlines to swoop in and grab some market share. 

What happened: After previously only operating out of the (much smaller) Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Porter began flying from its new hub at Toronto Pearson International Airport today, with initial flights taking customers to Ottawa and Montréal. 

  • With ~100 high-end Embraer jets on the way, Porter will start running new routes throughout the country before expanding across North America and the Caribbean.

  • Porter aims to capture economy travellers, ~90% of the country’s air travel market, by offering an experience that doesn’t make you regret stepping foot on a plane. 

Why it matters: As Air Canada and WestJet roll back routes (and grapple with tarnished reputations), Porter—which has won customers’ hearts with premium service, free drinks and snacks, and no middle seats—might bring some competition to an uncompetitive sector.

Zoom out: Porter isn’t the only challenger for Canada’s skies. And, to paraphrase a clichéd old western villain, this town ain’t big enough for all of them. One professor who specializes in transport told The Globe, “Canada can support 2½ airlines… not the number flying this year.” With its sterling reputation and fine services, Porter seems confident it can be that ½.