Canadian operators Air Transat and Porter Airlines have agreed to coordinate flight schedules and routes under a new joint venture aimed at helping both carriers expand.
The airlines revealed their planned business collaboration on 28 November, saying they intend to implement the deal “gradually” next year.
“This feeder network strategy is designed to facilitate the acceleration of both airlines’ expansion in their respective markets: domestic and trans-border short- and medium-haul for Porter, and international medium- and long-haul for Air Transat,” the pair say.
“It will also foster stronger network optimisation through collaboration on scheduling and route planning,” they add.
The move comes as Toronto-based Porter embarks on significant expansion, having recently acquired new Embraer 195-E2s, bolstering a fleet otherwise composed only of De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 turboprops. Porter flies to US and Canadian destinations and has used the new jets to serve more US cities and to launch its first transcontinental flights.
“Porter will be able to develop a more-robust network by increasing flight frequency on key domestic and trans-border routes, and entering into new markets with less point-to-point traffic,” Porter chief executive Michael Deluce says.
Meanwhile, Montreal-based Air Transat, a division of Transat AT, has been rebounding from several years of steep financial losses. It primarily flies to European and Caribbean vacation destinations and has been acquiring Airbus A321neos.
Transat chief executive Annick Guerard says her airline intends to “leverage” Porter’s domestic flight network to accelerate transatlantic expansion.
“This historic step constitutes a significant step forward in executing Transat’s strategic plan and an important milestone in developing a more sustainable competitive network,” Guerard adds.
Both carriers face increased competition from newly launched Canadian ultra-discounters like Flair Airlines and Jetlines, and from WestJet, which recently bolstered its position by acquiring discounter Sunwing Airlines.
Air Transat and Porter already co-operate through a codeshare partnership.
They say their planned joint venture will integrate “highly-complementary, non-overlapping networks at Toronto Pearson and Montreal Trudeau airports”. They plan expansion in North America, North Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Porter tells FlightGlobal it will not require regulatory approval to connect its domestic network to Air Transat’s European network.
“Some future elements of the expansion, to include other areas of North America, the Caribbean and South America, may require regulatory approval,” Porter adds.