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Porter Airlines eyes Winnipeg

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Toronto-based Porter Airlines wants to add Winnipeg and more than a dozen other new destinations to its network within the next few years.

The upstart airline announced this morning it has signed a conditional purchase order for 12 Bombardier CS100 aircraft, with options for an additional 18 CS100 aircraft. The agreement also includes purchase rights for six Q400 NextGen aircraft.

The first CS100 aircraft would be delivered in 2016, the airline added.

"We have determined that the CS100 airliner with a 107-seat configuration is the ideal aircraft to operate from our home base at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and will make it possible for Porter to open up new destinations, such as Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Los Angeles, Florida and the Caribbean," said Robert Deluce, Porter’s president and CEO.

However, before the expansion can happen, Porter must obtain government permission to land the bigger jets at Toronto’s island airport and to extend the runway on the city’s waterfront.

Jets are currently not allowed to fly out of the waterfront airport under an agreement between the city, the federal government and the Toronto Port Authority. Deluce said he wants the rule changed within six months.

However, the airline’s plans are expected to meet with stiff community opposition. A previous Toronto mayor won an election by fighting the construction of a bridge to the island airport.

A spokesperson for the Winnipeg Airports Authority said WAA officials have been trying to woo Porter to Winnipeg for more than a year.

"So we were certainly pleased to hear their announcement and we’re very glad to be on their radar," Breanne Talbot added. "We would welcome more airlines flying out of our airport."

— with files by Canadian Press

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

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