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Wednesday,  June 12, 2024 11:40 AM 

Porter brings House Party to the nation's capital & reveals plans to expand to sunny destinations

  • Air
  •   06-07-2024  11:15 am
  •   Michele Yeo

Porter brings House Party to the nation's capital & reveals plans to expand to sunny destinations
Kevin Jackson, executive vice-president and chief commercial officer at Porter Airlines. (Michele Yeo)
Michele Yeo

After kicking off its inaugural bash in Vancouver last summer and staging another edition in Toronto last November, Porter Airlines brought its lively Mr. Porter’s House Party to the nation’s capital last night (June 6), giving Ottawa a taste of how Porter likes to party.

The event, staged at Zibi House event space, brought together hundreds of travel professionals, partners, clients, media and influencers with the goal of giving them the overall Porter experience without taking flight.

Speaking to PAX last night, Kevin Jackson, executive vice-president and chief commercial officer at Porter, said, “Everything we're doing here is about immersing people in what our product is.”

As for the choice of Ottawa as Porter’s third house party location, Jackson said it’s a testament to the airline’s investment in the city.

“As we go to each of the cities, we're telling the Porter story as it relates to that city. So what's unique about Ottawa and why we're doing Ottawa now is, since the launch of the jet service in February of last year, we started building Ottawa as a hub.”

Porter now services 16 nonstop destinations from Ottawa.

“This summer we’re the largest carrier in Ottawa with two million passengers,” said Jackson. “Last year we flew about 750,000, so that should give you the scale of growth just over the past year.”

“And we’re going to continue to invest in Ottawa and expand this market,” he added, calling Ottawa an overlooked and underserved market which Porter is working to change. “We see that opportunity here and Porter has always been strong in Ottawa — even when we were just a turboprop operator based out of Billy Bishop, it was our largest market prior to our expansion and it was our first market when we launched our service in 2006, so we have a long history in Ottawa.”

(Michele Yeo)

Similar to the previous Mr. Porter’s House Party editions in Vancouver and Toronto, the Ottawa version featured entrees, snacks, wine and beer that are all available on Porter flights, and the venue was set up with different rooms, like a kitchen, living room complete with couches and a cozy fireplace, and an office.

DJ Marsh spins at Mr. Porter's House Party in Ottawa. (Michele Yeo)

At one point, a large garage door opened to reveal a makeshift rooftop patio where global house DJ Marsh spun for two hours while attendees danced the night away.

Additionally, a photobooth was set up where party patrons could pose for a makeshift cover of a life-sized version of re:porter, Porter’s in-flight magazine.

(Michele Yeo)

“We're working on disrupting specifically the economy segment,” said Jackson. “Our economy experience is like no other in North America and that's really what this event is designed to educate people on,”

“What I think the travel advisors can help us do is to educate people that flying on Porter is very different from flying on Air Canada or WestJet,” he added. “Our economy experience is like no other in North America and that's really what this event is designed to educate people on.”

Jackson points to the recent announcement from Air Canada that it’s now offering premium complimentary snacks to all customers on all flights, as well as complimentary beer and wine on flights within Canada and the U.S. for the remainder of the year, as clear evidence of Porter disrupting the industry.

“Air Canada is changing its product because of what Porter is bringing into the market,” he said. “Their announcement yesterday of free beer and wine was not a coincidence. It is because we’re doing it. If you don’t think it’s because of Porter then why didn’t they do it into Mexico and the Caribbean? It’s exactly aligned. They see Porter as a competitive threat in the market and obviously don't like it and they're changing their product as a reflection of the competition we're bringing to the market.”

(Michele Yeo)

And speaking of the North American market, Jackson told PAX travellers can expect continued expansion across Canada and throughout the U.S.

“We’re building out our U.S. leisure markets,” he said.

Last winter, Porter launched flights to Florida and more are on the way.

“We would have gone bigger into Florida if we had the aircraft for it, but we only had 29 jets at the time,” Jackson said. “We now have 34 and we'll have 44 this winter.”

Mr. Porter's House Party took place in the nation's capital on June 6, 2024. (Michele Yeo)

But it’s not just the Sunshine State that will see an increase in service.

“You’re going to see a significant increase in sun destinations from Porter this winter,” he added. “We'll announce that within the next month. You're also going to see us expand our fleet and you're going to see us expand our network, because a network has to continue to expand to really allow travel advisors to see Porter as a real viable alternative to the other dominant carriers in the market.”

Plans of expanding into Mexico and the Caribbean, however, aren’t in the immediate future.

“Mexico and the Caribbean will come later in our growth phase once we build out Canada, the U.S., and then we'll keep going,” said Jackson.

(Michele Yeo)

As for Canada’s Competition Bureau opening up consultations to collect feedback on the country’s domestic flight services, Jackson said he’s game to contribute.

“We're happy to participate and share our story,” he said. “I will tell you, what I see covered in the media today is a lot of coverage that carriers can't seem to compete with the duopoly of Air Canada and WestJet. They look at the failure of Lynx, they look at the struggle of Flair and I say look at the success of Porter. We've been around for 17 going on 18 years. We have competed successfully in this marketplace and we are expanding greatly.”

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