The Unlikely Duo of Porter and Air Transat Join Forces


If the merger of Alaska and Hawaiian was an unexpected blockbuster of a deal, then Porter and Air Transat is… ok, well, it’s not that. The two aren’t even merging, but they are joining forces and it is a useful tie-up between two very different carriers.

Again, this is not a merger of two airlines but rather a joint venture. Leisure package-focused Air Transat and business-friendly Porter already have a codeshare in place, but now they are creating this joint venture to share revenues and cooperate more closely. This suggests to me that either a) the codeshare was working so well that they want to integrate deeper or b) the codeshare is not working well and they are hoping a tighter combination will change their fortunes.

The rationale behind this makes a lot of sense when looking just at a route map (via Cirium). Porter is in dark blue while Air Transat is in light blue:

For Porter, winter and summer don’t look all that much different. The airline is a primarily-domestic operator with increasing levels of Transborder (read: US) flying. But for Air Transat, the network changes a lot between the seasons. Summer is very heavy over the Atlantic while in winter the fleet shifts south toward Florida and the Caribbean.

Either way, the two networks are complementary, or at least they have become so recently. It used to be that Porter’s fleet almost entirely operated from Toronto/City airport which doesn’t help Air Transat at all. But now with last year’s addition of the Embraer E195-E2 aircraft, Porter has ventured out into other markets. 

This coming Jan, Porter has about 40 flights a day coming out of Toronto/City but Toronto/Pearson is up to about 33 a day. Ottawa is next at 23 a day while Montréal has just over 13.

For Air Transat, it’s Montréal that’s the largest operation with 20 daily. Toronto is next at 13 daily. This is a smaller operation, but remember that Air Transat does a lot of sub-daily flying to a variety of cities while Porter is more about frequency on fewer markets. Case-in-point: Air Transat serves 24 destinations from Toronto in Jan with those 13 daily flights. Porter serves only 16 with its 33 daily flights.

Air Transat has long considered French-speaking Québec to be its bread-and-butter. Toronto has been a part of the network for ages, but it’s not quite the same there. If Air Transat wants to grow that market, it can certainly benefit from getting more transfer traffic via Porter to help build it up.

Porter may not be all that big in Montréal yet, but that’s changing. Just last week the airline filed 1x daily from Montréal to Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver starting next summer. Those flights will leave Western Canada in the morning and arrive in Montréal in the afternoon. They turn back around to head west in the late afternoon. This is perfectly timed for Transatlantic connections, and Air Transat will benefit.

For Porter to benefit, it’s a little more complicated. The airline is, as mentioned, more of a business-friendly airline compared to Air Transat’s pure leisure focus. I’m not sure how many of Porter’s target customers are really interested in being handed off to Air Transat, but that may not matter. Porter has room on those airplanes as it tries to grow its network. If it can take Air Transat customers and fill those empty seats, that’s better than nothing, even if it’s a low fare.

Ultimately, if there’s slack in the system then this is a welcome move. And for Porter, there is most certainly slack. Air Transat may not have as much slack, but it might find it likes those fares it generates in these Transatlantic markets. Regardless, this really can’t hurt either airline. With any luck, it’ll help.

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17 comments on “The Unlikely Duo of Porter and Air Transat Join Forces

  1. I think Transat will benefit a lot more than you realize. For loads going to Europe it was always easy to jump on Transat while AC is oversold, both pre and post COVID. Having connecting traffic will greatly boost their load factors. 100

  2. Air Canada and WestJet will survive. Given the history of airlines in Canada, Porter, Air Transat, Flair, Lynx and Canada Jetlines cannot all survive. So if you plan to fly in Canada, caveat emptor.

    1. Porter is a survivor. I have no worries about them. Transat has its niche and will survive. The one possible survivor of the three remaining is Lynx. Canada Jetlines will fail and fail quickly. Flair will die very soon as well, and you know what that means: Bonza gets more planes!

  3. I wonder if the Air Canada merger plan is dead long term. Also, I can see an AA partnership too. Looks to be AA’s best option for Canada.

    1. There was a time when American had a partner in Canada & it was Canadian Airlines, but Air Canada bought them out several years ago.

  4. Air Transat has a much larger number of destinations in Europe, the Caribbean and central America than I was aware of.

    If Porter can feed addtl passengers to those flights and fill a few more of their own seats in the process, it seems like it has the potential to be a win/win scenario.

    1. That’s a FlightAware error. Its an E95 flying that route. The Q-400 can’t reach 37,000 ft. or 460 kts. ;)

      1. I don’t think Porter ever flew the Q400 to Florida, but they do fly it seasonally to Myrtle Beach from YTZ. I wouldn’t be surprised if this flight winds up getting moved to the E95 out of YYZ.

        1. They flew the Q to Melbourne as someone above commented. I wish I could post a screenshot of the Diio schedule map to demonstrate.

  5. Both WestJet and Air Transat have retreated to their home bases – and are living to regret it, as predicted by many. WestJet has announced the resumption of transatlantic flights from the East coast barely a year after declaring Calgary as their sole international base. Air Transat pulled out of all bases west of Toronto and tried to serve Toronto and Montreal from points west with ill timed connecting flights. The tie up with Porter removes the need for their own connecting flights and the AT planes can be deployed more profitably elsewhere. Passengers will benefit from more frequent and better timed connections. Now they just need to work on the marketing.

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