July 20, 2022 By Adena Ali, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Porter Airlines has announced a firm order for 20 Embraer E195-E2 passenger jets with a total list price value of US$1.56 billion as the company looks to further strengthen its presence and customer base in Eastern Canada.
The airline said in a news release Tuesday that it plans to fly the new jets to business and leisure destinations in Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean, from Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax and Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
First delivery and entry into service is scheduled for the second half of this year, the company said.
Porter said the purchase follows its deal last year for 30 Embraer E195-E2 jets, which have capacity of upwards of about 146 seats, with purchase rights for a further 50 aircraft.
The deal brings Porter’s orders with Embraer to a total of 50 firm commitments and 50 purchase rights.
Porter CEO Michael Deluce said in a statement that the aircraft will become core to the airline’s fleet.
In an interview, Deluce noted that the timing of the announcement is not tied to WestJet’s plans to refocus its routes and fleet on Western Canada.
“(WestJet’s Western Canada strategy) will enhance our plans and will help strengthen the core of our Eastern Canadian expansion, but it was not the instrumental piece in us deciding to trigger phase two of our growth plans,” he said.
In June, WestJet said it would add more routes and connections in Western Canada and pull back on its regional routes in Eastern Canada. The Calgary-based airline said it would remain a national airline with a presence in Eastern Canada, but primarily through direct connections to Western cities.
Porter wants to “really provide a strong alternative to Air Canada,” Deluce added.
Deluce also explained that the E195-E2 aircraft would help materially move the needle on fuel burn and emissions as the entire aviation industry moves towards net-zero. Embraer describes the E195-E2 as one of the most “environmentally friendly aircraft in the single-aisle segment, delivering the lowest level of noise and emissions.”
Amid chaos for many travellers at Canada’s biggest airports, Deluce said a lot of people have been gravitating towards Porter in recent weeks and months, specifically people looking to fly directly to cities like New York City or Boston instead of using Air Canada to do so.
Deluce also said that he expects total passenger traffic levels this summer to return to close to 2019 pre-pandemic levels.
Porter returned to the skies last September after being grounded for almost 18 months because of COVID-19 public health and travel restrictions.
The airline progressively brought its schedule back online to 2019 levels by June.