Porter is a popular airline in Canada — it’s based at Toronto Billy Bishop Airport, and operates De Havilland Dash 8-400 turboprops to both domestic and transborder destinations. The airline is known for its great passenger experience, and primarily targets business travelers.
While the airline has been grounded for over a year, it looks like some major changes could be coming to Porter’s fleet and business model.
Porter allegedly orders 30 E195-E2s
Leeham reports that Porter Airlines has placed an order for 30 Embraer E195-E2 aircraft, with deliveries expected to begin in 2022.
For those of you not familiar with the Embraer E195-E2, this is the latest generation jet of the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer’s lineup. The E195-E2 is the largest, longest range, and most fuel efficient Embraer E-jet. The plane can seat 120-146 people (depending on the configuration), and can fly up to 2,600 nautical miles.
Embraer E195-E2 jet
Now, it’s worth noting that Porter Airlines isn’t acknowledging that this order was placed:
- During an April 29 earnings release, Embraer disclosed an order for 30 E195-E2s, without naming the customer
- Airfinance Journal cited multiple sources in claiming the customer was in fact Porter, and Leeham News & Analysis (which I find to typically be accurate) has “confirmed” that this order is for Porter Airlines
- The airline denies that it placed this order, though realistically it could be that Porter’s parent company, Porter Aviation Holdings, placed the order, so that the statement is technically true
- This is a case where I can totally see the value in Porter wanting to keep the order private for as long as possible, given how competitors may respond
Porter would allegedly fly out of Toronto Pearson
If you’ve flown Porter before, you’re probably thinking “I love Billy Bishop Airport, and now I can fly Porter out of there on a nicer plane!” Not so fast, unfortunately, as the government doesn’t allow jets to operate out of Toronto’s beloved city airport.
Instead it’s believed that Porter’s plan is to begin operating out of Toronto Pearson Airport, which is the much larger and less convenient airport serving Toronto. We don’t have many details on what routes Porter would operate out of Pearson Airport, though the E195-E2 would be capable of flying everywhere from Los Angeles, to Vancouver, to Miami, to St. John’s.
Potential range of the Embraer E195-E2 from Toronto
While more competition out of Toronto Pearson would be good for consumers, this still seems extremely risky:
- Porter is known for offering a great passenger experience, though ultimately the biggest selling point of the airline is the convenient service it operates out of Billy Bishop Airport
- Porter would be at a significant disadvantage compared to Air Canada at Pearson Airport in terms of route network, frequency, etc.
- Even if Porter configures E195-E2s comfortably, the airline can’t compete with the wide bodies that Air Canada schedules on transcon flights
This isn’t totally out of left field
On the surface this might seem like a wild direction for Porter to take, especially during a pandemic when the airline has been grounded for over a year. However, Porter has been thinking about acquiring jets for years.
Back in 2013, Porter had placed an order for 30 Bombardier CS100 aircraft (now known as the Airbus A220-100). The order had been conditional on the government changing rules to allow jets at Billy Bishop Airport, but that never ended up happening.
In 2013 Porter Airlines had conditionally ordered the CS100
Clearly Porter still sees value in flying jets, even if the model will have to be a bit different than hoped for back in 2013.
Why would Porter order the E195-E2 over the A220-100, though? That probably comes down to the airline being able to secure E195-E2 delivery slots as early as next year, while more lead time would be needed for the A220-100. I imagine the airline also got a great deal, given the state of the airline industry.
Reports suggest that Porter Airlines has placed an order for 30 Embraer E195-E2 jets. The boutique Toronto-based airline would allegedly use these planes to launch operations out of Pearson Airport, in addition to the carrier’s current operations out of Billy Bishop Airport.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this unfolds. This all gets even more interesting when you consider that Connect Airlines is a new carrier that essentially intends to replicate Porter’s business model at Billy Bishop Airport.
What do you make of Porter Airlines’ alleged plans? Do you think the airline can compete out of Toronto Pearson Airport?
(Tip of the hat to Simon)