Report: Porter Airlines Orders Embraer E195-E2s, Expanding To Toronto Pearson Airport

Report: Porter Airlines Orders Embraer E195-E2s, Expanding To Toronto Pearson Airport

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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.

Bottom line

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)

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  1. Brian

    I wouldn’t call YTZ “beloved”. If it was turned into parkland? Sure. Then it’s beloved. And I say this as someone who has used the Island airport often enough.

    With good express train service to YYZ the case for YTZ is disappearing. If it was to disappear tomorrow most no one would notice.

  2. Jon

    I think it's easier to say almost no one would notice it disappearing after a year of no air travel for any reason, but even though it's a smaller airport, it still served almost 3 million passengers in 2019...I would miss it, even though I don't love it...

  3. Andy 11235

    Certainly an interesting development. I would be careful calling YTZ "beloved," though, as this is quite controversial. The rest of the Toronto islands are a park, and there are many -- especially those who have bought expensive lakeshore condos -- who would prefer to demolish YTZ. Sure, many others love the convenience of being 10 minutes from just about anything downtown. As @Brian said, the new train service to YYZ is long overdue and does...

    Certainly an interesting development. I would be careful calling YTZ "beloved," though, as this is quite controversial. The rest of the Toronto islands are a park, and there are many -- especially those who have bought expensive lakeshore condos -- who would prefer to demolish YTZ. Sure, many others love the convenience of being 10 minutes from just about anything downtown. As @Brian said, the new train service to YYZ is long overdue and does cut into YTZ's competitive advantage. Considering AC's astronomical fares, any competition in Canadian airspace is welcomed news.

  4. Joe Chivas

    Years ago I flew one of their Dash-8s from Billy Bush to Mt. Tremblant. It's a solid airline.

  5. Caleb

    Porter is fantastic - a great economy+ experience. As others mention, the new train to Pearson erodes much of the Billy Bishop advantage. I wish Porter the best of luck and cannot wait for them to begin flying again. On another note, I've always found it curious that they haven't tried to establish direct flights from YUL to Chicago, NYC, etc. I know that Toronto is the better business city but Montreal is in a...

    Porter is fantastic - a great economy+ experience. As others mention, the new train to Pearson erodes much of the Billy Bishop advantage. I wish Porter the best of luck and cannot wait for them to begin flying again. On another note, I've always found it curious that they haven't tried to establish direct flights from YUL to Chicago, NYC, etc. I know that Toronto is the better business city but Montreal is in a league of its own - one of my favorite cities on the planet.

  6. Enzo

    I think this news is suspect. Where do they get the money to launch routes around the continent and buy new aircraft? That's a huge investment.

    Porter has been struggling for years, just getting by, and their private money backers long ago wanted out with a series of failed IPO attempts.

    Plus splitting their business model? And not continuing with BBD products? And an E195 is the wrong aircraft to compete in large markets...

    I think this news is suspect. Where do they get the money to launch routes around the continent and buy new aircraft? That's a huge investment.

    Porter has been struggling for years, just getting by, and their private money backers long ago wanted out with a series of failed IPO attempts.

    Plus splitting their business model? And not continuing with BBD products? And an E195 is the wrong aircraft to compete in large markets against aircraft with lower CASMs.

    They more likely leaked this to stay relevant... keep their pilots, sitting on the sidelines for over a year, from moving on with rumours of jets, maybe trigger a response from competitors, maybe get in the news a bit. There's no downside for them to leak it even though it's not them.

    I'd put more money on Porter not coming back at all after this industry disaster than coming back with a fleet of new jets.

  7. DenB®

    @Enzo +1. Rumours abound about the company's near-insolvency. Your theory explaining why they'd make this announcement (if it isn't true) is plausible. I'm skeptical. I love flying from YTZ cuz I can ride my bike right up to the terminal and be at the gate in 10 minutes, even for USA-bound flight. But Porter never seduced me. Decades of no premium cabin, no worthwhile loyalty program, no meaningful partnerships. Free coffee in the "lounge" doesn't...

    @Enzo +1. Rumours abound about the company's near-insolvency. Your theory explaining why they'd make this announcement (if it isn't true) is plausible. I'm skeptical. I love flying from YTZ cuz I can ride my bike right up to the terminal and be at the gate in 10 minutes, even for USA-bound flight. But Porter never seduced me. Decades of no premium cabin, no worthwhile loyalty program, no meaningful partnerships. Free coffee in the "lounge" doesn't make an airline a "favourite" in my book.

    I'd miss YTZ more than I'd miss Porter.

  8. Andrea

    Pearson being less convenient is highly subjective. Most of my relatives live in the western suburbs of Toronto. They generally only fly Porter if their fares are significantly lower than the airlines operating out of YYZ. The UP Express has also been a game changer for Pearson.

  9. JR

    Not too sure about this move. Porter was always adamant that they didn't want to fly out of YYZ. That being said, if the news is in fact legit, I can see them trying to hub YUL feeding the Embraer with the Q400 out of YTZ. Problem is money and investors. They've been burning money not flying for over a year now... How long can they keep it up? They keep pushing back their restart date (currently at Jul 20th now).

  10. iv

    I’m certain the upcoming announcement of federal aid was the springboard Porter needed to launch service out of YYZ. If they indeed did go with Brazilian Embraer over made in Canada A220’s they will face a backlash from Canadians.

  11. [email protected]

    This seems odd. To me (someone who has flown 150 Porter flights), YTZ is Porter's "special sauce", both for proximity to downtown and for convenience of connecting. I don't know what the value proposition would be for them out of YYZ, other than possibly price, but then they would have to reduce prices below the level at which AC or WS would compete.

    However, if they did start operating out of Pearson, I could see...

    This seems odd. To me (someone who has flown 150 Porter flights), YTZ is Porter's "special sauce", both for proximity to downtown and for convenience of connecting. I don't know what the value proposition would be for them out of YYZ, other than possibly price, but then they would have to reduce prices below the level at which AC or WS would compete.

    However, if they did start operating out of Pearson, I could see them making the YTZ-YYZ transfer experience as seamless as possible (whether their own shuttle all the way or a partnership with UP Express).

  12. Leigh

    Though LAX based, I used to travel frequently within Canada for work, and pleasant memories of Porter and YTZ.

    I understand the assumption that the E195-E2's would be based out of YYZ, but given the stiff competition at YYZ from AC and WS (and available gate space?), I wonder if's a chance to rethink the overall strategy and use the aircraft to build one/multiple bases from other Eastern Canadian cities, and perhaps extend into...

    Though LAX based, I used to travel frequently within Canada for work, and pleasant memories of Porter and YTZ.

    I understand the assumption that the E195-E2's would be based out of YYZ, but given the stiff competition at YYZ from AC and WS (and available gate space?), I wonder if's a chance to rethink the overall strategy and use the aircraft to build one/multiple bases from other Eastern Canadian cities, and perhaps extend into Western Canada.

    The current model seems rather one-dimensional, leaving Porter open to ongoing regulatory and competitive challenges at YTZ.

    We shall see!

  13. Robert Montaigue

    Rumor has it that Porter intends to build a North East relationship with JetBlue and also join Oneworld as a connect airline. They are using these jets to build a new base out of YYZ and YUL. More to come!

  14. Jeffrey Magnet

    Potter has built itself in to a retail price airline. Why? They had an exclusive at BB. Now there is another airline coming in to give them completion. I hope that Porter can succeed at Pearson. I am surprised that BB is not letting the E 195 to fly in. London City does and they are right in downtown London. The E 195 is very very quiet. BB, Wake up and smell progress. Just sayin.

  15. bhcompy

    A lot of people here talking down YTZ in favor of YYZ, which is a terrible airport to transfer in with an extraordinarily bad customs experience on both ends. Porter connecting through YTZ is the only reason to fly the airline, as despite being a slower prop, you have far less headache and far less consideration to be made for timing.

  16. Peter Brown

    I'll bet Porter got the E195's for almost nothing. The E195 is an inferior plane to the the A220, range and technology. There will be outrage in Canada if the Deluce family who owns Porter try to pull this off.

  17. YYZPhil

    If Porter does operate out of YYZ it'll probably be out of the older, less fancy Terminal 3 compared to the "palace in comparison" that is AC in Terminal 1.

    My real question is: Where will they fly out of there? If domestic, they're competing with not only low-cost operations like Flair that lowered fares a fair bit since their move from Hamilton "Not Toronto Like Some European Airlines Called It" Airport/YHM, and charters like...

    If Porter does operate out of YYZ it'll probably be out of the older, less fancy Terminal 3 compared to the "palace in comparison" that is AC in Terminal 1.

    My real question is: Where will they fly out of there? If domestic, they're competing with not only low-cost operations like Flair that lowered fares a fair bit since their move from Hamilton "Not Toronto Like Some European Airlines Called It" Airport/YHM, and charters like Sunwing who occasionally do the run to YVR because it was such a high-demand route.

    American routes? Doesn't AC, WS, and the Americans already cover transborder well?

    This is obviously some strategy to stem the bleed out of the YTZ temporary stop.

  18. Stuart

    I bet this is tied to jetBlue somehow. B6 just announced their first flight to Canada (to Vancouver) and Porter has an existing code share with B6 connecting over BOS. Something deeper with them (and maybe including AA) using Pearson wouldn't be crazy. WestJet + Delta and Air Canada + United leaves B6/AA without a Canadian partner.

  19. Rizzoli B

    WestJet offers free beer,or wine on Toronto to Ottawa flights.......only to match Porter!!!

    Lolololol- i guess some travelers stopped booking WJ because they want a free alcoholic drink

    Wooooot ------- can't wait for a Porter YOW to LAS direct non-stop flight.......ya ya, never gonna happen

    PORTER sounds good to me

  20. David Henderson

    I always liked Porter so I wish them all the best with this new plane if it happens. Good luck...

  21. James

    I personally love Billy Bishop with it's quick access to Union Station subway and the surrounding downtown hotels. Getting home from YYZ in the evening is a nightmare I have been stranded there twice now after taking the last flight in from Chicago. The one case was after a snow storm and there was no ground transportation at Pearson except the TTC bus to Lawrence West which short turned and left me stranded in the...

    I personally love Billy Bishop with it's quick access to Union Station subway and the surrounding downtown hotels. Getting home from YYZ in the evening is a nightmare I have been stranded there twice now after taking the last flight in from Chicago. The one case was after a snow storm and there was no ground transportation at Pearson except the TTC bus to Lawrence West which short turned and left me stranded in the middle of nowhere. After waiting 20 minutes for the bus which was supposed to be "right there" I phoned my sister to come and find me. For people living uptown (Eglinton) taking the Pearson express isn't very convenient.

  22. Nic S

    I personally see Porter serving / connecting smaller Canadian cities such as Ottawa, Halifax and Quebec City using these E2's. This can both be in Canada and also to select cities in the US. A good example could be the Ottawa - Boston route which Air Canada currently has a monopoly on and prices absurd amounts for. This could be like the Canadian version of Breeze in the US. Porter is a smaller, happy airline...

    I personally see Porter serving / connecting smaller Canadian cities such as Ottawa, Halifax and Quebec City using these E2's. This can both be in Canada and also to select cities in the US. A good example could be the Ottawa - Boston route which Air Canada currently has a monopoly on and prices absurd amounts for. This could be like the Canadian version of Breeze in the US. Porter is a smaller, happy airline and choosing the E2 is a very strategic choice. Looking forward to further updates regarding this purchase!

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Nic S

I personally see Porter serving / connecting smaller Canadian cities such as Ottawa, Halifax and Quebec City using these E2's. This can both be in Canada and also to select cities in the US. A good example could be the Ottawa - Boston route which Air Canada currently has a monopoly on and prices absurd amounts for. This could be like the Canadian version of Breeze in the US. Porter is a smaller, happy airline and choosing the E2 is a very strategic choice. Looking forward to further updates regarding this purchase!

James

I personally love Billy Bishop with it's quick access to Union Station subway and the surrounding downtown hotels. Getting home from YYZ in the evening is a nightmare I have been stranded there twice now after taking the last flight in from Chicago. The one case was after a snow storm and there was no ground transportation at Pearson except the TTC bus to Lawrence West which short turned and left me stranded in the middle of nowhere. After waiting 20 minutes for the bus which was supposed to be "right there" I phoned my sister to come and find me. For people living uptown (Eglinton) taking the Pearson express isn't very convenient.

David Henderson

I always liked Porter so I wish them all the best with this new plane if it happens. Good luck...

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