After quietly allowing its rivals to grab headlines in 2012 with the unveiling of new subsidiaries, Canada’s Porter Airlines has followed through on plans to declare its long-term strategy, boldly proclaiming its ambitions to become a strong third force in Canada’s aviation market. Underpinning Porter’s efforts are the carrier’s plans to introduce Bombardier CSeries CS100 narrowbodies in a drive to broaden its reach to markets beyond the eastern half of Canada and the US. Porter’s evolution follows hints dropped by the carrier in recent weeks that it would table its long-term vision going forward after Air Canada and WestJet dominated Canadian aviation discourse in 2012 by unveiling plans to create their respective subsidiaries Rouge and Encore. Porter now envisions the 107-seat narrowbody aircraft joining its existing fleet of Bombardier Q400 turboprops to allow for expansion into western Canada, and new transborder markets on the US west coast and Florida. While Porter believes now is the time to forge a new era in its business, the reality is its growth could disrupt a market place that is just showing signs of stability. Air Canada and WestJet have displayed prudent capacity restraint that has allowed WestJet to maintain its consistent profitability and Air Canada to record positive results in 2012 after recording losses in 2011, 2009 and 2008. During 2012 Air Canada grew capacity by just 1.2% while WestJet recorded 4% capacity growth versus nearly 9% for the year prior. The capacity introduced by Porter with larger aircraft into already well-served markets could prove disruptive, pressuring yields for all airlines serving those routes. Porter’s bold expansion also hinges on gaining approval for jet operations at its Toronto City Centre base, which will likely stir up an unruly political debate that could completely derail the carrier’s planned business evolution.All of Porter’s much-hyped expansion plans hinge on gaining approval from the requisite authorities to operate jets from Toronto City Centre and the endorsement for adding 168m at each end of the airport’s main runway. Porter needs the green light to modify the so-called tripartite agreement amongst the city, the federal government and the Toronto Port Authority that bans jet operations at the airport, which sits on a small island close to Toronto’s city centre. Porter’s declarations to operate jets from the airport will no doubt fuel heated discussions as some residents will strongly oppose the introduction of larger aircraft from the site even as Porter touts the CS100 as a whisper jet. Porter is obviously hoping the facts that the CS100 is quieter than the Q400 and that its order would boost Bombardier’s new flagship programme will it help it secure the necessary political backing and overcome the looming controversy. To underscore the seriousness it places on gaining approval to operate large jets from Toronto City Centre Porter, during its media blitz to announce its expansion plans, put its board chairman Don Carty – a native Canadian, former head of American and also chairman of Virgin America’s board of directors – front and centre to discuss the modifications necessary at the airport (including additional takeoff and landing slots) to accommodate the new routes and aircraft. Mr Carty told Canadian newspaper The National Post that he was encouraged by preliminary discussions with the tripartite members about Porter’s desire to extend the runway and operate jets from the airport, and indicated that the parties might issue their approval within six months.Source: CAPA
Gravity always wins!