Airports are not solely to blame for the air travel issues: Porter Airlines
As Porter Airlines sets its sights on expanding to Toronto Pearson International Airport, the head of the regional carrier says much of the delays, flight cancellations and passenger congestion plaguing Canada’s largest airport are temporary.
“I do very much think that some of the challenges faced with these airports are transitionary. A lot of demand coming back into the system — staffing levels will eventually normalize and I believe that some of those challenges being faced at airports such as Pearson and other airports across the country will eventually work their way through the system,” said Michael Deluce, president and chief executive officer of Porter, in an interview Thursday.
“We're pretty confident by the time we're in that marketplace in the fall, it will be a much better operation by then.”
Porter is bulking up on passenger jets as it prepares to fly to more destinations across North America, including operating out of Pearson. In Toronto, Porter currently operates out Billy Bishop, the city’s smaller waterfront airport, where it’s only permitted to fly turboprops.
The airline announced a firm order for an additional 20 Embraer E195-E2 passenger jets this week, on top of its existing firm order for 30 aircraft. In addition to those firm orders for 50 jets, it has an option to purchase 50 more.
The expansion to Pearson is coming at a time when the airport is experiencing extensive delays and flight cancellations that have prompted bigger rivals such as Air Canada and WestJet to reduce their flight schedules, not to mention intense frustrations and numerous complaints from travellers.
Deluce placed much of the blame for the passenger congestion at Pearson at those carriers’ feet.
“A significant element of the challenges being faced by Air Canada and WestJet are really related to their own staffing shortages. It's not strictly airport-related, and that's something we've been successful in avoiding over the past many months,” he said.
While passenger jets can’t currently fly out of Billy Bishop, that’s something one Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate said he wants to change. In a tweet Thursday, Pierre Poilievre said he would allow jets to operate out of Billy Bishop if he were to eventually be elected prime minister.
Deluce said he wasn’t consulted on that pledge, but added that he wouldn’t close the door on such an opportunity.
“Porter has always thought that appropriate, quiet, emission-friendly aircraft could operate out of Billy Bishop. We're right now very much focused on other growth plans. It's not something on our radar. But ultimately the rules that govern Billy Bishop airport were established in 1983 — well before new-generation aircraft were developed,” he said.
“Certainly, the Embraer and Airbus-type aircrafts that are available today are extremely quiet, emission-friendly and really are a very different set of aircraft.”