Porter Airlines will receive funds from Canada’s wage subsidy programme, allowing the carrier to pay many of the hundreds of workers it furloughed in March after grounding its fleet and suspending all operations until June.

The Toronto-based carrier will remain grounded until June even as it returns furloughed employees to its payroll. Porter intends to return staff to active roles as operations restart, Porter’s chief executive Michael Deluce says in a statement on 17 April. Nearly all its 1,500 workers have been furloughed.

Porter Q400 full size.

Porter Airlines has grounded its De Havilland Canada Dash 8 fleet.

“As we look ahead to restarting flights when it is appropriate to do so, we are doing everything possible to stay connected with our people,” Deluce says.

Porter plans to eventually put its furloughed employees back to work “as operations restart and rebuild to previous levels”, the airline says.

The Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy became law on 11 April and subsidises 75% of an eligible company’s wages for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to 15 March, giving each worker up to C$847 ($605) per week. The programme makes C$71 billion available to companies that lost 15% of their year-over-year revenue during March due to coronavirus, and 30% of year-over-year revenue for April and May.

Porter is Canada’s third-largest airline after Air Canada and WestJet, servicing 19 destinations in eastern and central Canada as well as the northeastern USA. It has grounded its entire fleet of 29 De Havilland Canada Dash 8 aircraft, according to Cirium fleet data, and has orders for 12 Airbus A220s.