Canadian carrier Porter Airlines to suspend flights until June 1

Mar 18, 2020

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Canadian regional carrier Porter Airlines will temporarily shut down until amid efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Toronto-based airline will fly until March 20 and then suspend all operations until June 1, Porter said Wednesday. Travelers with flights booked during the suspension can change or cancel an itinerary without fees.

“COVID-19 is having an unprecedented effect on people around the world and Porter is determined to do our part to support the efforts of the Canadian, U.S. and global authorities,” said Porter CEO Michael Deluce in a statement. “Restricting activities by people in all communities is what’s required to keep our team members and passengers healthy, and ultimately to end this fast-spreading pandemic.”

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Porter is the first carrier in North America to temporarily suspend operations due to the pandemic. Numerous airlines in other parts of the world, including Air Baltic and Brussels Airlines, have also stopped flying during the crisis.

Other carriers, however, have not been as lucky. Flybe in the UK and Trans States Airlines in the U.S. have — or will — shut down permanently amid the coronavirus crisis.

In Canada, Air Canada is halving capacity in the second quarter. WestJet is suspending all international flights and cutting domestic capacity in half.

Related: Some airlines have completely suspended service during coronavirus pandemic

Porter’s decision to suspend flights comes as Canadian and U.S. authorities have reportedly agreed to close their border to all but cargo and essential travel.

Porter flew a third of its capacity on routes to the U.S. in 2019, according to Cirium schedules.

The airline serves Boston (BOS), Chicago Midway (MDW), Myrtle Beach (MYR), Newark Liberty (EWR) and Washington Dulles (IAD) from Toronto Billy Bishop (YTZ) its latest route map shows. It operates 29 De Havilland Dash 8-400 turboprops.

Related: Airlines face ‘critical’ threat from coronavirus-related cash crunch

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments around the world to provide at least $200 billion in support to the airline industry. These funds are needed to get carriers through the impending cash-crunch as revenues dive amid plummeting demand.

“If we want to maintain a strong airline sector, able to cope with this difficult crisis but able also to provide the resources that the recovery [will need]… we need government to act quickly,” said IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac on Tuesday.

Featured image by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images.

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