Porter Airlines unveils major expansion with 80 brand-new Embraer jets, over 20 new cities

Jul 12, 2021

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Porter Airlines might soon become a household name across all of North America.

On Monday, the Toronto-based carrier announced a major strategy shift with the acquisition of up to 80 brand-new Embraer E195-E2 jets. The aircraft order, valued at up to $5.82 billion, will take Porter’s strategy to the next level. It includes 30 firm commitments, as well as 50 purchase options that could be exercised in the coming years.

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Though Porter’s committed to the E195, the airline noted that it could convert the purchase rights to the smaller E190 variant should the airline’s strategy shift down the line. The first of the new planes will enter service in the second half of 2022.

(Image courtesy of Porter Airlines)

For those who haven’t heard of Porter, the Canadian regional airline commenced operations in 2006, with headquarters at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ). The airline flies to a handful of destinations across Canada, as well as five in the U.S. — Boston; Chicago; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Newark; and Washington, D.C. — using a fleet of 29 De Havilland Dash 8-400 turboprop aircraft.

One of the big perks of flying with Porter is that you can fly to and from downtown Toronto, as opposed to the larger but less convenient Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ). It’s almost like flying from LaGuardia (LGA) as opposed to New York-JFK for those traveling to midtown Manhattan. (Porter paused its operations during the pandemic, but has reaffirmed its commitment to restart its flights on Sept. 8.)

But Porter’s Dash 8 turboprops are limited in their range and therefore put a cap on the airline’s expansion plans. While the Embraer regional jets open up many new markets for Porter, the airline won’t be able to operate them out of Billy Bishop — there’s a ban on scheduled commercial jet service from the airport.

So, the airline will establish service at Toronto’s Pearson Airport for the first time. The E195’s range (up to 2,600 nautical miles) will allow the airline to create a continental route network that includes a variety of new destinations.

Though Porter isn’t yet ready to share its expanded route network, it did release a map of possible future destinations across Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean. This includes six cities in Florida, as well as major cities on the West Coast like Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. More route details are expected in the coming months.

(Image courtesy of Porter Airlines)

For context, Porter’s massive aircraft order isn’t necessarily unprecedented for the airline. In 2013, the carrier placed an order for 30 Bombardier CS100 aircraft (now called the Airbus A220-100), which was contingent upon the regulators allowing commercial jet service from Billy Bishop Airport. Ultimately, that request was denied, and so the order was canceled.

(Image courtesy of Porter Airlines)

Now, the airline has chosen the Embraer 195 as its first jet. But not just the “normal” Embraer 195. Instead, the carrier will become the North American launch customer for the E2 variant of the popular regional jet.

The E2 is one of the most environmentally friendly single-aisle aircraft, both in terms of carbon emissions and sound. It’ll also feature a comfortable passenger experience as well. With a 2-2 all-coach configuration, there won’t be any middle seats. You’ll enjoy large windows and spacious overhead bins as well.

All told, it’ll be interesting to see how Porter’s expansion plans take hold. One thing is for sure: The competition is heating up north of the border.

Featured image courtesy of Embraer and Porter Airlines.

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