Reports Suggest Porter Airlines Is Embraer’s Mystery E2 Customer

After much speculation about the identity of Embraer’s mystery E2 customer, sources are claiming it is none other than Canada’s Porter Airlines. Embraer confirmed a deal for 30 195-E2’s last month but did not disclose the buyer’s identity.

Reports Suggest Porter Airlines Is Embraer’s Mystery E2 Customer
Could Porter Airlines be the unidentified buyer of 30 195-E2 jets? Photo: Embraer

Porter Airlines may be the mystery customer

In late April, Simple Flying reported on Embraer’s deal for 30 195-E2s ordered by an unidentified customer. The Brazilian planemaker revealed the order during an earnings call but remained tight-lipped on the details. Speculation was rife about the buyer’s identity, with industry trends pointing towards a leasing company as the customer.

According to Leeham News, the identity of the mystery buyer is Porter Airlines. The jet certainly fits the profile for Porter’s regional network and will undoubtedly be an improvement on the airline’s Dash 8-400-only fleet. However, the airline wouldn’t be able to use the jet at its Billy Bishop Airport base, which restricts the use of jet aircraft.

The E2 quietest single aisle plane
Porter Airlines has denied any kind of deal is on the table. Photo: Embraer

Before today’s revelation, another news outlet, Airfinance Journal, first broke the news that Porter Airlines was the buyer on May 13th. However, Porter Airlines denied it had placed an order with Embraer and also dismissed the existence of a lease agreement for the jet.

The airline claimed it has no plans to “switch” fleet types any time soon, with the carrier stating in an email,

“Our response to this speculation has been provided to others and published. We do not have anything further to add.”

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Who else could the buyer be?

There is some suggestion that Porter Airlines’ parent company, Porter Aviation Holdings, is in fact the real customer. If this is the case, it enables Porter Airlines to deny itself as the customer and also deny the existence of any leasing agreements.

Porter Airlines Dash 8
Porter currently operates a fleet of turboprop Dash-8’s out of Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Why exactly would Porter Airlines be so eager to circumvent knowledge of any Embraer deal? The answer may be for political reasons. The main competitor to the E195-E2 is the Airbus A220. If Porter Airlines were to go with the A220, the jets would be assembled at the Airbus facility in Montreal, bringing vital jobs to the Canadian aerospace industry.

Factor in the C$135m ($112 million) Porter received in government aid in 2020, and it’s easy to see how political factors may play a part in the denial.

Porter may abandon conditional Airbus agreement

Back in 2013, Porter Airlines was set to become the Canadian launch customer of the Bombardier CSeries, which is now the A220. The carrier placed a conditional order for 12 CS100 jets and a further 18 on option, which Airbus took on after assuming control of the CSeries program.

However, the deal never materialized and Porter continued to operate with its Dash-8 fleet. The deal is technically still on the table, according to Cirium data. The main stumbling block was the fact that Billy Bishop Airport, Porter’s sole base of operations, bans the use of jet aircraft. Porter had hoped the airport would revise its policy, but it never did.

Porter Airlines Dash 8
The airline may end up setting up a new base of operations to fly the jets. Photo: Getty Images

If Porter Airlines will indeed be the recipient of the new jets, it would need to open up a new base of operations away from Billy Bishop Airport. Sources have suggested the airline is eyeing up Toronto Pearson Airport, where it would be free to operate the jets.

Do you think Porter Airlines is the unidentified Embraer customer or has all the speculation got it wrong? Let us know what you think in the comments.