Porter triples airline into competitive hornet’s nest

Aviation's Week in Charts

Top markets for Porter out of YYZ

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Top markets for Porter out of YYZ

In what turned out to be one of the worst-kept secrets of an aircraft order in recent history, Porter finally announced the acquisition of 30 E195 E2s. Rumours (with a “u”) had been circling since February of a sale-and-leaseback deal being offered by the non-operational airline. The recent order announcement suggests a buyer has been found.

The airline operated a turboprop-only fleet with 29 78-seat Dash-8-400s until the airline paused operations in March 2020. The 30 E195 E2s are roughly twice the capacity of the Dash-8s, effectively tripling the size of the airline from a seat perspective, likely more in terms of total ASKs.

Porter found a niche out of Toronto’s Centre Island airport (YTZ), revitalizing the downtown airport with turboprop flights meeting the no-jets restrictions. Unfortunately, the E2 is not allowed to operate into YTZ, meaning, not only will Porter triple their total fleet capacity, they will need to do it out of their competitor’s main hub, Toronto’s Pearson airport. The airport is further disconnected from Porter’s current operations and places the new operation directly into the competitive landscape housing Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, Air Transat, Swoop, and Flair.

O&D markets from Toronto Pearson show room for Porter to grow into 13 of the top 20 markets, potentially competing with its own YTZ traffic to Montreal, New York, Ottawa, and Chicago. The complete separation of the two networks also prevents Porter from leveraging its current network to build connections to fill the new E2s, unless some turbo-prop flights are moved to YYZ or the rail connection from Union Station to Pearson counts as a connection. For those keeping score, the rail connection would not be a competitive solution.

The challenge for Porter won’t be in finding markets large enough for their new fleet of aircraft, it will be in the massive amount of competition that already exists in those markets.



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