Porter to keep flights grounded until end of August

Porter plane

One of the Canadian airlines serving the Ottawa International Airport is extending the suspension of all of its flights by another month until the end of August.

Porter Airlines had previously planned to resume flying on July 29.

Porter chief executive Michael Deluce says the ability to successfully relaunch service is directly tied to the lifting of travel restrictions.

He adds that Porter believes it is getting closer to a time when people can travel more freely and the airline is optimistic that key border closures and mandatory quarantines will begin easing.

The airline is waiving change and cancellation fees on all fares booked between Monday and Aug. 31.

Porter stopped flying on March 21 as travel restrictions due to the pandemic ramped up and caused a sharp drop in demand.

Porter’s connections between Ottawa and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport are popular among business travellers looking for quick access to downtown Toronto. Porter also connects Ottawa with several cities in Atlantic Canada, including Halifax, Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John.

While more domestic flights are gradually being put back on the schedule, Ottawa airport authority CEO Mark Laroche recently said the terminal expects only about 2.5 million passengers to pass through its gates in 2020, down from its original forecast of 5.2 million before COVID-19 hit. 

Laroche said it could be three to five years before passenger volumes at YOW return to pre-pandemic levels, adding the non-profit facility will likely have to hike levies such as airport improvement, terminal and landing fees – which account for more than two-thirds of its revenues – to help make up the difference. 

– With files from the Canadian Press