This story was updated on Monday, March 27 at 11:06 a.m. EST
According to Cirium, Porter cancelled 22 per cent of its flights departing Toronto Pearson airport (YYZ), almost 20 per cent of its schedule at Vancouver International Airport (YVR), and 17 per cent at Calgary International Airport.
Porter launched its expansion strategy in February, becoming a new and competitive player in Canada’s already-heated aviation market.
The launch of new 132-seat Embraer E195-E2s marked a major shift for the airline, which previously only flew out of Toronto’s Billy Bishop island airport (which does not allow jets).
Porter now uses E195-E2s to serve Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax out of Toronto Pearson.
The airline has also announced plans to build a new nine-gate terminal at Montreal Saint-Hubert Airport (YHU) – set for completion in 2024 – as it expands further in the Montreal marketplace.
The debut of the E195-E2 coincides with the introduction of a new fare class.
Porter’s standard economy fare has been rebranded as PorterClassic, which covers perks customers have come to expect from the airline, including free premium snacks, as well as beer and wine.
The new PorterReserve fare includes extras like dedicated early check-in, early boarding and deplaning as well as fresh meals on longer flights.
“No carrier has removed the pain points for economy travellers or focused on making their experience more enjoyable and so that's exactly what we're going to do,” Michael Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines, told PAX at a preview event earlier this year. “With the expansion of our fleet, we are setting out on a mission to redefine air travel once again.”
Porter originally announced it would fly E195-E2s from Toronto to Vancouver daily and then three times a day by March 24, and to Calgary twice daily, in addition to other city pairs.
But as reported by the Globe and Mail, citing data from Cirium, Porter’s March cancellations included 56 of its planned 253 flights leaving Toronto Pearson; eight of the 48 scheduled flights departing Calgary; and nine of the 47 flights leaving Vancouver. (Data on the complete network was unavailable).
Brad Cicero, a spokesman for Porter, told the Globe that the airline made “pro-active” cancellations to allow time to prepare the planes for duty, and train crew members.
“Entering new aircraft into service once received from the manufacturer is a complex process across many teams and the timeline for this work has been adjusted,” he said. “It’s various things that aren’t done at the factory: certain configurations, customization, software, hardware, etc., that are airline specific, plus some practical training as new team members are starting.”
Cicero, however, noted that Porter’s new markets are still selling “very well.”
"Passenger demand is very strong"
In a follow-up statement to PAX, Cicero reiterated how the schedule reductions related to work enabling new E195-E2 aircraft to enter Porter's fleet.
"The short-term schedule adjustments are based on updated timelines," he said, noting that the full schedule returns this spring "and then builds from there."
"Passenger demand is very strong and we intend to announce a number of new routes as the year goes on," Cicero said.
The airline, meanwhile, has eight Embraer jets with firm orders for another 42, and 29 78-seat De Havilland Dash 8 propeller planes.
A special promo for travel advisors was also released last week.
For a limited time, approved agents can access discounted fares for themselves (and one guest) for all markets to and from Toronto Pearson on board Porter’s new Embraer E195.
Click here for details.