Porter marks five years in Tim­mins

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - FRONTPAGE - ALAN S. HALE

Tim­mins’ na­tive son and the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Porter Air­lines, Robert Deluce, was back in the city on Thurs­day to speak at a cham­ber of com­merce lun­cheon and mark the five-year an­niver­sary of his air­line be­gin­ning ser­vice in Tim­mins.

Since the Porter be­gan fly­ing be­tween the Vic­tor M. Power Air­port and Toronto, Deluce said the air­line has trans­ported 325,000 pas­sen­gers, and that air fares in Tim­mins have fallen dra­mat­i­cally – as much as five times less – due to the in­creased com­pe­ti­tion.

“I know how vi­tal air travel is to cities like Tim­mins,” Deluce told a room full of busi­ness­peo­ple at the Por­cu­pine Dante Club. “More peo­ple now fly and use the air­port overall, whether it’s with Porter or the other air­line. Com­pe­ti­tion and lower fares have helped the mar­ket grow for the ben­e­fit of every­one.”

The in­creased ac­cess to air travel this has given the city, ar­gued the CEO, has been ben­e­fi­cial for the Tim­mins econ­omy be­cause it has made it more eco­nom­i­cal to go to and from the city to con­duct busi­ness with part­ners and in the South.

“You may have been re­signed to it at the time, but the bot­tom line is the past sit­u­a­tion pre­vented lo­cal busi­nesses from be­ing as suc­cess­ful as they could be,” said Deluce. “Th­ese are is­sues that have been sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved since Porter came to town.”

Porter was founded in 2006, but it was not un­til five years later that ser­vice be­tween Tim­mins and Toronto be­gan. Deluce said that ser­vice for Tim­mins had al­ways been in the com­pany’s plans from Day 1, but they had to fo­cus on es­tab­lish­ing their other routes in those early years to make the route to Tim­mins eco­nom­i­cally vi­able.

“New air­line routes take time to ma­ture; some­times the process can take sev­eral years. By 2012, we had al­ready es­tab­lished ser­vice to places like Ot­tawa, Mon­treal, Hal­i­fax, New York and Chicago,” ex­plained the CEO. “Ac­cess to th­ese other im­por­tant cities helped make the Tim­mins route sus­tain­able ... It would have been pre­ma­ture for us to start fly­ing here with­out this foun­da­tion.”

With the ser­vice now in place for the past five years, Deluce said Porter has forged good re­la­tion­ships with or­ga­ni­za­tions in Tim­mins.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the open re­la­tion­ship we have with the air­port’s man­age­ment team and their will­ing­ness to dis­cuss is­sues that are be­fore the air­port and Porter,” he said. “The same can be said of city hall and the un­der­stand­ing there that air ser­vice is a com­pet­i­tive ne­ces­sity that lit­er­ally puts Tim­mins on the map for cer­tain eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“The busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties sup­port is also cru­cial. With your sup­port, we are able to main­tain a ro­bust sched­ule to down­town Toronto.”

Go­ing for­ward, Porter is hop­ing to greatly ex­pand its net­work of routes. The air­line is cur­rently work­ing on be­ing granted pre­clear­ance through U.S. Cus­toms at the Billy Bishop Air­port in Toronto. Leg­is­la­tion grant­ing that has al­ready passed the U.S. Congress and a sim­i­lar bill is mak­ing its way through Par­lia­ment.

Hav­ing pre-clear­ance would open up the pos­si­bil­ity of flights to New York City’s La­guardia Air­port, and Rea­gan Na­tional Air­port in Wash­ing­ton D.C.

Porter also wants to ex­pand the range of its flights by in­tro­duc­ing jet-pro­pelled air­craft into its fleet. Jets are cur­rently banned from land­ing at the wa­ter­front Billy Bishop Air­port in Toronto due to noise re­stric­tions.

Deluce said the com­pany wants to spend $2.3 bil­lion on Bom­bardier’s CS100 jets, which are de­signed to have noise lev­els com­pa­ra­ble to pro­pel­ler-driven planes. But so far, they have been un­suc­cess­ful at con­vinc­ing the air­port’s gov­ern­ing body to re­tool the jet ban to al­low the new planes.

But the CEO said his com­pany isn’t giv­ing up.

“We are still con­vinced the plan is a good one,” he said. “It’s not sim­ply an op­por­tu­nity for Toronto ei­ther. Tim­mins is a prime ex­am­ple of a com­mu­nity that would ben­e­fit. Any flights from Tim­mins to places like Mi­ami, San Fran­cisco, and Los An­ge­les would be a one-stop con­nec­tion through Billy Bishop. This would pro­vide more op­por­tu­ni­ties for you to do busi­ness in per­son.”

ALAN S. HALE/THE Daily Press

Tim­mins Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Chris­tine Ben­der presents the CEO of Porter Air­lines, Robert Deluce, with a plaque on Thurs­day in com­mem­o­ra­tion of his com­pany's five years of pro­vid­ing air ser­vice to Tim­mins.

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