Will Porter lift off?

Just because the city’s financial movers and shakers like travelling with Porter doesn’t necessarily mean they want to own shares in it


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Ask anyone on Bay Street who has flown on Toronto’s Porter Airlines and you’re likely to hear rave reviews on everything from the swank airport lounge to the proximity of Porter’s main base of operations, at Toronto’s island airport, to the city’s downtown skyscrapers. But just because the city’s financial movers and shakers like travelling with Porter doesn’t necessarily mean they want to own shares in it.

Porter had been pursuing a $120-million initial public offering, but was forced to delay pricing the sale after the European financial crisis rattled global markets. Then, due to an apparent lack of interest from big institutional investors, underwriters dropped the IPO’s price to $5.50 a share from up to $7 a share previously. The final shoe dropped this week when Porter decided to suspend the sale entirely, citing “market conditions.”

Porter has posted a loss in each of the three fiscal years since it launched, and recorded a loss of $6 million in the first three months of 2010. Its flight plan calls for continued expansion elsewhere in Canada and the United States, putting it on the verge of becoming an important player. But for this up and comer, it seems there is still significant turbulence ahead.


Will Porter lift off?

  1. Hopefully Porter does become an important player! It is always better for the consumer to have more choices and for Airlines to have some competition… Worst case scenario, Air Canada's monopoly dream to come true, then prices rise.

    Go Porter Go!

  2. Of the many factors pointing to a very difficult future for Porter, the most revealing is its failure to attract enough passengers to fill even one in two seats. Overall, in the first quarter of 2010 Porter's load factor was 47% down from 2009's 47.9%. Much worse on two of its three U.S. routes:39% to Boston, and 24% to Chicago, in the available 2009 data.

    Compare that to 2009 load factors for Air Canada of 78.6%, and for WestJet of 78.7%.

    A reasonable conclusion is that the customer base of the Island Airport is just too small to sustain an airline. The Island Airport is the graveyard of the dreams of airline entrepreneurs and the names of Robert Deluce and Porter Airlines are about to be added to the list of failed companies that proceeded it.

    • Ah, yes, a post from the head of the NIMBY organization that has been fighting Porter for years. Unbiased analysis, surely!

  3. I flew on Porter once, and loved it. Being treated like a person instead of cargo was a nice change. I hate to admit it, but I think part of the problem they have filling the seats with average travelers is that a lot of people ignorantly presume that a jet is safer than one driven by propellers. Porter really needs to get the message across to the average Joe and Jane that the Q400 is one of the best aircraft in its class. I love it, you get a much better view of the ground than from a jet, and they're almost as fast, but more economical. Plus, they're designed and built in Canada, and powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada's PW150's. Go Porter!

  4. Hey Brian, why not inform everyone who you are and your motives when you post your opinion on Porter. You should take up a more useful cause.