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Porter joins industry in selling 'basic' economy fares

Canadian niche carrier Porter Airlines has rolled out its own version of basic economy, unveiling a new, discounted fare class that requires passengers pay more for services previously included in the price of the ticket.

The Toronto-based airline, which has long sought to differentiate itself through customer service and free amenities, is now offering a "basic fare" on several routes, following a path well-worn by airlines worldwide.

The fares are now available on routes from Porter's Billy Bishop Toronto City airport hub to Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, Timmins and Windsor, says Porter in a media release.

"The intention is to make [basic fares] available on additional routes over a period of time," the release says.

Basic fares cost less than Porter's other fares, but are ineligible for reservation changes, cancellations, refunds or credits, the airline says.

Buyers of basic fares cannot carry luggage onto the aircraft, though small personal items are permitted. Also, seat assignments and checked baggage will cost extra, according to Porter's website.

Basic fares must be booked 21 days prior to departure.

Porter says the discount fare will attract new price-sensitive customers and reflects "increasing demand from travellers wanting to choose from a range of prices".

Porter will continue to offer all customers free inflight alcoholic drinks and free lounge access at some airports, it says.

Porter operates a fleet of 29 Bombardier Q400 turboprops, each configured entirely with economy seats.

The carrier's basic fare comes weeks after competitor WestJet launched the first flights of its ultra-low-cost subsidiary Swoop – an airline with a business model based entirely on the precepts of "basic" economy pricing.

Air Canada also recently rolled out "economy basic", a fare product that does not permit refunds, cancellations or upgrades.

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