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Porter looks to attract a new customer base with countrywide route expansion

A Porter flight takes off from the airport Wednesday July 3, 2019 in Ottawa. Porter Airlines has announced a series of route and frequency expansions in the hopes of filling the gap of a high-value economy experience across North America. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

As some Canadian airlines look to cut costs and lower ticket prices, Porter Airlines is catering to a more premium economy experience.

The Toronto-based airline has made a series of announcements over the past two weeks in preparation for the delivery of 30 aircraft ordered in August last year.

Currently, the airline operates 29 aircraft focusing on Eastern Canada and North Eastern U.S.

As of Feb. 7, Porter will fly from Toronto Pearson to Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal, starting at $225 for a round-trip flight.

The airline also has plans for daily flights to Calgary and Edmonton from Pearson as of mid-February for $262.

Read more: Porter to start flying out of Toronto Pearson, including Vancouver route

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Porter’s flights out of Ottawa International Airport will also be expanding as the airline announced new routes to New York City, Boston, Quebec City and Thunder Bay as of March 26.

“It was a natural extension of our existing business and one that is really focused on providing the best economy product in the market,” said Michael Deluce, chief executive officer of Porter, in a phone interview.

Earlier this month, the airline made another announcement about its economy-class offerings, making Porter the only airline to offer no middle seat for its economy passengers, said Deluce.

The chief executive also boasted of the free beer and wine options served in glassware and the soon-to-be-added free Wi-Fi and premium complimentary snacks.

He said that for the past 20 years, many of Canada’s airlines have been taking away items otherwise previously offered to economy passengers, and now with the entrance of ultra-low-cost carriers, there has been a “race to the bottom.”

“They’re not doing anything to make economy or travel more enjoyable.”

Read more: Porter Airlines orders 20 more Embraer E195-E2 jets

Now, Porter plans to enter the segment of the market it believes has been neglected to offer an “elevated economy experience” throughout Canada.

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While the airline has announced a number of new destinations, especially in Western Canada, Deluce said that the announcements will not stop any time soon as the airline hopes to expand to all major destinations in Canada and the U.S. by 2024.

In that time, the airline plans to take on 50 new aircraft to further expand routes and flight frequency with high-quality economy flights on a broader scale at a time when many other airlines have cut back.

“Our goal is to actually make economy air travel enjoyable again,” said Deluce.

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