When asked if the growing presence at Toronto’s downtown airport could lead to Porter having an exclusive on airline service there, Deluce again stresses an attitude of promoting competition.
“We occupy a good chunk of the space,” he says, “but other airlines have requested space in the past and have been granted slot allocations. We offer to handle the other carriers and to provide space. At present we’re the only one here.”
Regarding the state of the global economy and of airline industry itself, Deluce is fairly optimistic. “I think we consider ourselves a bit fortunate in that regard in that we’re able to expand when others are retrenching,” he comments. “We did turn a profit in our first nine months, which is quite an accomplishment, and we continue to offer profit sharing to our employees.
“We did see a softening on our U.S. routes, particularly New York, last fall, but that started moving in a positive direction by the first of the year.” Today, he says that enplanements to the U.S. are up some 10 percent over last year, while the domestic Canadian market has been steady throughout the economic downturn.
Regarding what airports can do to attract Porter Airlines to serve their communities, Deluce says there is no pro forma on what it takes to get the carrier’s attention. “Marketing assistance in the early stages is always helpful,” he says. “Every airport has its own stimulus package.”
Last year Porter completed a total renovation of its FBO facilities, which includes four hangars and a lease which runs through 2033. “The FBO is a nice little chunk of our revenues,” comments Deluce. “We have operated FBOs in the past; it’s an important part of our revenue.” He adds that FBO revenues this year are up some 55 percent.
This year the focus has turned to the construction of a $45 million, 150,000-square foot passenger terminal which is being designed to accommodate one million passengers annually, a number Deluce expects Porter Airlines to reach by next summer.
According to the company, phase one of the terminal will open this November, offering passenger facilities, aircraft gates, and office space. Full build-out is expected by spring 2010, with ten gates and U.S. and Canadian Customs.
“The terminal is under construction and it’s progressing very nicely,” relates Deluce. “It will incorporate space for U.S. Customs pre-clearance; we’re working on that approval right now. It will include a bit of retail and food services, and offer a Wi-Fi environment.”