Porter Airlines Gets Government Loan As It Prepares To Restart

Regional Canadian carrier Porter announced on June 30th that it had reached an agreement with the Government of Canada for loans valued at up to C$270.5 million. A portion of this, C$20.5 million, has been earmarked for providing additional passenger refunds for flights canceled due to the health crisis.

Porter Q400
Porter Airlines operates out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Photo: Porter Airlines

A government lifeline

While many carriers around the world received direct, industry-specific government support in the earlier months of the crisis, Canada was later in doing the same. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that the government had set up employment wage subsidy schemes and general loan programs that many large Canadian businesses (including airlines) could access- the most notable being the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility or LEEFF.

Although, we should note that the government had struck one significant deal with its largest carrier in the form of Air Canada’s C$6 billion aid package.

Porter Q400
Porter operates the Bombardier-built Dash 8-Q400. Photo: Porter Airlines

As for Porter’s government-funded lifeline, the carrier is receiving C$270.5 million in loans, with C$20.5 million of this going to passenger refunds (C$1 is currently approximately US$0.81).

“Porter is using this money primarily as a capital reserve during the pandemic recovery period. We intend to draw on these funds as required in support of re-establishing operations through an uncertain period of travel demand. Our immediate focus is on being ready to fly again as soon as public health conditions allow and governments modify travel restrictions.” -Michael Deluce, President and CEO, Porter

The airline says that its loans are being made available through the federal government’s Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation under the aforementioned Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF).

Canadian leisure airline Sunwing also secured a significant loan from the government under this program, as has Air Transat.

Refunds for Porter customers

The airline says that all flights booked by June 30th, 2021, for travel as of February 1st, 2020, are eligible for refunds. The airline says that this process for making refund requests “begins immediately” and that “all submissions must be made online and will be accepted until August 29, 2021.”

Refunds are for the total purchase amount and will be processed to the original form of payment, such as a credit card and VIPorter points.

Alternately, customers can keep their existing travel credits and receive a 25% credit bonus, depending on their booking method. These credits are valid until December 31st, 2022 and are fully transferable, and can be redeemed multiple times until the full balance is used.

Porter Airlines Gets Government Loan As It Prepares To Restart
The government loan allows the airline to issue refunds to customers. Photo: Abdallahh via Wikimedia Commons 

Grounded for over a year

Due to its niche business-commuter-heavy offerings from Toronto to destinations on the US East Coast, Porter Airlines has been extremely hard-hit by the global health crisis. While larger Canadian airlines might have been able to sustain skeleton operations with cargo flights and some essential domestic travel, Porter Airlines could not. In fact, the airline has been grounded since March 2020, at the onset of the crisis.

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Since then, the airline has issued periodic announcements with dates it had hoped to resume operations. This has occurred fairly regularly, with a newly revised postponement every two months or so.

Demonstrating this fact is a May 2021 Twitter post from the airline (embedded below), announcing a revised return-to-service date of July 20th. However, clicking on the link leads to a further revised notice on the airline’s website announcing an August 3rd return date.

With vaccination rates continuing to climb and the overall situation improving, Porter Airlines may finally be able to follow through on its August 3rd resumption date. Of course, with the more contagious delta variant spreading throughout much of the world, nothing can be guaranteed.

Are you eager for Porter Airlines to resume flights once again? Let us know in the comments.