Canada’s Porter Airlines Extends Flight Grounding To 15 Months

Toronto’s Billy Bishop City Airport-based Porter Airlines has pushed back its flight resumption yet again. Last we heard from the Dash 8 operator, the latest date had been set for May 19th. However, today the airline announced that it would not be flying again until at least June 21st.

Porter Airlines Dash 8
Porter Airlines has once more pushed back its flight resumption by another month. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Exactly 15 months to the day

Unfortunately, the operational woes for regional Canadian carrier Porter Airlines continue for at least an additional month than the last tentative update suggested. In a statement issued Monday, the airline confirmed its fleet of turboprops will remain parked for a little while longer, awaiting the impact of inoculations on restrictions.

“In recent weeks, there has been open discussion by government officials about easing travel restrictions based on expectations that vaccination programs will be well advanced in the U.S. and Canada by early summer,” said Michael Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines, in a statement.

“We recognize that short-term public health measures have been enhanced recently in certain jurisdictions. At the same time, we are looking ahead to summer and preparing for the possibility of some travel restrictions unwinding, he continued.

Mr Deluce further added that the airline would start rebuilding operations as soon as conditions based on government decisions allow.

The latest announcement means that Porter will not have operated for at least 15 months straight. The airline halted all operations on March 21st, 2020, as the crisis began to unfold in earnest.

Porter Dash 8
If the flight resumption on the new date does come to pass, Porter will have had exactly 15 months of pause to operations. Photo: BriYYZ via Wikimedia Commons

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Flexibility from Porter, no news from Ottawa

While some may be asking whether or not Porter Airlines will ever return to service, the carrier is adamant that it will. It says that as soon as developments allow, the airline will be an important part of providing people with travel options as the economy recovers. The carrier is providing full flexibility by waiving all cancellation and change fees for tickets booked between now and June 21st.

Despite frequent demands and requests from industry voices, Ottawa is yet to settle on what a state-support industry-specific bailout would look like. While there were hints back in early March of the Canadian government inching closer to an airline support package, nothing concrete has yet been decided.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
Airlines are not allowed to operate jet aircraft at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Photo: Ken Lund via Wikimedia Commons

The A220 operator that could have been

Porter Airlines was established in February 2006 and commenced operations six months later. The carrier owns a fleet of 29 De Havilland DHC-8 Dash 8 turboprop planes, averaging 11.2 years of age. It was once meant to become the Canadian launch customer for the Bombardier C-series – now rebranded as the Airbus A220.

In 2013, Porter Airlines signed an order for 12 CS100 jets, with options for up to 18 more. However, the order was contingent on restrictions being lifted at Porter’s base at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

A Tripartite Agreement from 1983 limits noise and bans the use of jets for scheduled airlines. It is set to last until 2033. Porter’s attempts to have the restrictions lifted to accommodate the CS100 jets were denied by the government in 2015.

When do you think Porter Airlines will finally return to service? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.