“We're building on what Porter has established over the last 16 years and making it even better,” announced Michael Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines.
Porter's staff, partners as well as travel media were the first to step onboard Porter’s new Embraer E195-E2 during an exclusive preview flight Friday morning (Jan. 27).
The aircraft is the first of “up to 100” E195-E2s the airline is set to roll out over the next few years, Deluce said.
The launch of the E195-E2 marks a major expansion for Porter, with the airline poised to begin offering service to new destinations in Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Porter will continue to operate out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport for flights using its existing Dash 8-400 fleet, while its E195-E2s will fly out of Toronto Pearson International Airport.
“When we started flying in 2006, we set out to redefine what was expected from air travel and we built our original passenger experience around the promise of speed, convenience and, especially, service,” said Deluce, addressing event attendees.
“This time we're expanding from elevating regional air travel to elevating economy air travel across Canada and North America.”
Speaking to PAX, Deluce said the airline had been considering a number of expansion plans over the past five years.
“COVID opened up certain opportunities from an aircraft and infrastructure point of view that allowed us to do a large-scale expansion,” he said.
“Certainly the demand environment with everything pent up from COVID has been pretty strong and we are very positive on it going forward."
"Best narrow-body aircraft available"
Deluce described the E195-E2 as “the best narrow-body aircraft available,” noting that Porter is proud to be the launch customer in North America for the aircraft.
The E195-E2 features 132 seats with a 2-by-2 cabin configuration that gives passengers a choice between window and aisle seats.
“Porter will be the only carrier that offers no middle seats to its economy customers,” said Deluce. Other stand-out cabin amenities include spacious overhead bins, power outlets at every seat, touchless lavatories and LED mood lighting.
The aircraft also has the lowest fuel consumption per seat and per trip among 120-150 seat aircraft and promises a noise footprint that’s up to 76 per cent smaller than previous-generation narrow body aircraft, according to the airline.
Two economy experiences
Porter’s debut of the E195-E2 coincides with the introduction of a new fare class.
“Our economy service experience is unlike anything you'll find with other airlines,” said Deluce.
Porter’s standard economy fare has been rebranded as PorterClassic, which covers the perks customers have come to expect from the airline, including free premium snacks, as well as beer and wine.
On E195-E2 flights, PorterClassic fares also include 30 inches of legroom and free, fast Wi-Fi.
(The Wi-Fi was strong and consistent during the two-hour preview flight).
The new PorterReserve fares cover extras like dedicated early check-in, early boarding and deplaning as well as fresh meals on longer flights.
On the E195-E2 preview flight, fresh meal choices included a choice of soba noodle bowls with edamame, tropical salmon poke with mango salsa and coronation chicken salad sandwiches served on croissants from Toronto’s Nadège Patisserie.
Sides included a seven-layer Mexican bean dip and baked olive puffs.
PorterReserve passengers travelling on E195s will also enjoy 36 inches of legroom – space comparable to business class legroom on other narrow body aircraft, according to Porter; while those flying on Porter’s Dash 8-400 fleet will have 32 inches of legroom and seats in the first two rows of the aircraft.
“Economy is a segment that many people wouldn't associate with Porter and the truth is most airlines shy away from this category – either focusing all of their energies on the elite passengers or, on the other end of the spectrum, taking everything away and providing the lowest fare but charging for everything,” said Deluce.
Challenging the definition of economy
Deluce went on to say that Porter is ready to challenge the definition of economy in response to the strong demand within the segment for an enhanced experience.
“PorterReserve will attract economy travellers who desire all the perks included at a fair price but, as well, traditional business class travellers who are open to a new concept with better quality at a better value," he said.
“Porter is going to be embracing economy travellers,” he added, noting that this segment of the market represents 90 per cent of people who fly.
Launching Feb. 1
The E195-E2 planes will kick off service on Feb. 1 with four daily flights from Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Ottawa (YOW) and Montreal (YUL).
New routes will continue to roll out throughout February, with three daily flights to Vancouver (YVR) launching on Feb. 7; two daily flights to Edmonton (YEG) starting on Feb. 14; two daily flights to Calgary (YYC) beginning on Feb. 22; and two daily flights to Halifax kicking off on Feb.23.
Porter is keeping the details of other new routes in the pipeline under wraps for now, but a map of
"possible destinations" distributed at the event showed a focus on the southern U.S. and Florida with possible destinations highlighted including San Francisco, Phoenix, Nashville and Orlando as well as Nassau.
“For over two decades, the entire industry has chipped away at the economy experience and today it has become very painful, stressful and, in many cases, dehumanizing for most people,” said Deluce.
“No carrier has removed the pain points for economy travellers or focused on making their experience more enjoyable and so that's exactly what we're going to do."
“With the expansion of our fleet, we are setting out on a mission to redefine air travel once again.”