Porter Airlines opening Thunder Bay aircraft
by Scott A. Sumner
Porter Airlines is opening an aircraft maintenance base at Thunder Bay International Airport, as of February 2019. This development contributes to Porter servicing its fleet of 29 Bombardier Q400
aircraft and will create 18 jobs in the city.
“Thunder Bay is an important location in Porter’s network,” said Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines. “This latest investment in a maintenance base demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the community.”
Porter has recently made significant investments in Northern Ontario, including opening a base for pilots and flight attendants in Thunder Bay one year ago.
“This decision is excellent news for the city,” said Bill Mauro, Mayor of Thunder Bay. “It benefits the economy by introducing quality jobs and supports our airport as a regional hub for moving people and
The maintenance base will be located in an existing hangar at the airport. Porter engineers will perform daily overnight maintenance on two aircraft that will return to service the following day.
“We greatly appreciate the continued confidence Porter has displayed in Thunder Bay,” said Ed Schmidtke, president and CEO of Thunder Bay International Airports Authority. “Since initiating service in 2009, Porter has consistently contributed to the airport’s growth by increasing flights, passenger volumes and local employment.”
Porter currently operates up to seven daily roundtrip flights between the city and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
Porter Airlines has revolutionized short-haul flying with a warm and effortless approach to hospitality, restoring glamour and refinement to air travel. Porter is an Official 4 Star Airline® in the World Airline
The airline currently offers flights to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Fredericton, Saint John, Moncton, Halifax, St. John’s, Stephenville, N.L., Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins,
Windsor, New York (Newark), Chicago (Midway), Boston and Washington (Dulles), and has seasonal flights to Mt. Tremblant, Que., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Orlando-Melbourne, Fla.
Robert Deluce, President and CEO of Porter Airlines answered some of my questions at the media event.
Thunder Bay is an important destination for you?
“ Thunder Bay is a significant destination for us and has a great pool of talent here from pilots to flight attendants to maintenance people.We have aspirations of Thunder Bay being even busier.”
Why do maintenance in Thunder Bay?
“There are two of our aircraft the overnight here every night so there will be line maintenance performed on those aircraft on an ongoing basis and its allows us to hire 18 new team members. We have leased
space from a company here. The real partnership is with Confederation College, the airport itself and the city. We have the opportunity to attract some talented people.”
“ Last year we opened a maintenance facility in Sudbury as well and of course we do maintenance in Toronto. We hope to continue to grow the number of flights. We started in Thunder Bay with 1 flight seasonally and now to 7 daily. It is exciting to be here and continue to grow.”
I noticed significant change at the Toronto terminal building?
“The Toronto terminal has been under renovation for a couple years now and is up to 11 fully functional gates and some off gate stands. The lounges both domestically and transporter have been enlarged and
updated in terms of size and amenities. Our passengers indicated they wanted that and it is a big improvement.”
“The Billy Bishop terminal has had about 4 expansions since we started. It continues to grow as does our number of passengers. Porter Airlines sold the terminal building about 4 years ago. We did design that
building, built it, operated it and financed it. Our core business is flying but we needed the terminal to cater to our passengers and have a role in that. Selling the terminal allowed us to retire any debt we had
associated with the new airplanes we had acquired over the years and put some cash on the balance sheet to make sure we were set up for the longer term.”
You and your family has had a long history in aviation.
“ Our family started with White River Air Services and then Austin Airways. My own background was with Canada 3000 and then Air Ontario, and now Porter. Our plan was having ease of access from a downtown airport and to connect it with other destinations where there was a natural affiliation with travelers.”
“Porter started with Ottawa, then Montreal and shortly after that, 1 year later we began flying to Thunder Bay. Originally it was intended to be seasonal, then quickly year round.”
“We added 3 aircraft a few years ago and will look at other destinations.”