Thursday, April 11, 2013

Porter Airlines to Winnipeg?

CS100 Jets Porter Wants to Buy
Porter Airlines announced that they want to be Canada's third airline. To do this will require jets, an expanded Toronto Islands airport and approvals to break a camel's back.

For some time now, Porter has been a thorn in WestJet and Air Canada's side since 2006. The proximity of their Toronto Island base to the majority of Toronto and the prop planes they fly have become popular with those who take to the air.

For those near the lake shore of the city or out on Lake Ontario, the sight of Dash 8 Q400 prop aircraft taking off from the island at impossible angles is a something to behold.

Winnipeg's airport has been in the hunt for this impudent airline for some time but the the city has been beyond the range of the props. If Porter purchases the Bombardier C100, a "whisper" jet, it would open up the entire country to its reach.

This will be easier said than done. Toronto Islands is North America's largest car free environment. The people of the city run there in the tens of thousands each day to escape the city and enjoy the lake. In 2003, the primary election issue was a bridge to islands. This was crushed handily by the fear that jets would one day take off and land at the airport.

Toronto Island Airport as seen by CN Tower

In 2014, a pedestrian tunnel over 800 feet long with connect the airport to the mainland. It will be equipped with people movers similar to many airports around the world.

Toronto Islands
It is difficult to imagine how much controversy this will create in Toronto. Jets on the island will be an explosive debate. Some critics say it will be impossible to approve. Other critics say it will be a difficult market regardless and Porter could be relegated to the scrap heap of Canadian failed airlines.

We have seen many airlines come and go over the years. While Winnipeg flyers desire more competition, we generally see only two main players at any given time.

It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds but Winnipeg is likely only to be an observer in the matter. The decision on whether we get a Porter Airlines connection lies in Ontario not Manitoba.

1 comment:

One Man Committee said...

Porter's expansion plan (as set out at are hub-and-spoke to the extreme with nearly all of their routes going through Toronto Island airport... this will obviously be attractive to Toronto-bound passengers and those connecting to eastern Porter destinations that Winnipeggers have to make connections for anyway (Halifax, New York, Boston, Washington, Florida). However, I'm not sure that it will be as much of a game-changer for Winnipeg as some of the media are suggesting, though.

(Things would get a lot more interesting for Winnipeg travellers if Porter hooked up with the SkyTeam or OneWorld alliances...)