Canadian regional carrier Porter Airlines has updated its schedule for resuming operations. Unfortunately for the airline, this date has been delayed yet again, pushed further back due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, and the domino effect of travel restrictions and low customer demand. The airline had previously aimed to resume operations in November, which it then postponed to December. This latest move will have the airline restart in February 2021.
A February 11th resumption
Porter Airlines now intends to resume operations on February 11th due to the lack of progress with the overall COVID-19 situation and travel restrictions. This is what the airline’s leadership had to say via a press release:
“Deferring service until 2021 is not a decision we anticipated having to make as COVID-19 emerged early this year…Every delay to restarting flights has the greatest effect on our team members, who are eager to do their part to help serve customers under safe conditions. Unfortunately, the continued and cumulative effects of restrictive travel advisories, border closures and quarantines have suffocated travel demand to the point that a return to sustainable levels of passenger traffic is highly unlikely in 2020.” -Michael Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines
The airline goes on to say that this date was chosen to restart as it is after the traditionally slow post-holiday January period. As such, it will provide a “reasonable opportunity to begin flying if conditions improve.” Furthermore, the airline is hopeful that progress will be made with regards to developing rapid testing solutions as a means to lift government-imposed restrictions on travel.
Porter’s small network disproportionately affected
As a regional airline, Porter serves Canada’s most populated urban area, covering much of Southern Ontario. Out of its Toronto City airport hub, the carrier connects smaller cities in Western Ontario, most of the Maritime provinces, and cities of the US East Coast with one another. Chicago is also a part of the airline’s network.
A much smaller airline than other Canadian competitors, Porter has been more severely affected by the downturn in air travel demand. Furthermore, the existence of a Canadian ‘Atlantic bubble’ means even tighter travel restrictions for a huge portion of the airline’s network.
Now that a second wave is well underway across much of Canada as well as a much worse third wave across the United States, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting further away. Canadian international travel restrictions continue to hamper transborder traffic as the government continues to renew the border closure every month or so.
Porter temporarily suspended operations on March 21st and had planned the following resumption dates:
Hopefully, this is the final postponement of service and the industry will manage to establish reliable pre-flight testing by February as a way to get people flying safely once again.