Porter plans new terminal to split Montreal operations

Porter plans new terminal to split Montreal operations

Updated: 1 month, 2 days, 19 hours, 31 minutes, 39 seconds ago
Rendering of the new St Hubert-Montreal Airport that Porter Airlines will develop and fly from

Porter Airlines  has a big plan to boost operations in Montreal. Rather than fight for gate space at Trudeau International Airport to the west of town, the carrier will develop a new terminal at Saint Hubert Longueuil Airport (YHU) on the other side of the St. Lawrence River. Construction is slated to begin later this year, with completion targeted for the end of 2024.

Saint-Hubert has incredible potential as a complementary secondary airport for Montréal, with a convenient location for a significant portion of the local market and also easy access to downtown Montréal.

– Michael Deluce, president and CEO, Porter Airlines Holdings

The two airports are less than an hour apart driving, even during typical rush hour traffic. But there’s a river in between. Plus, significant residential and industrial operations on St. Huber’s side of the river. If the routes and fares are compelling, Porter should have little trouble attracting travelers to the new facility.

The 225,000 square foot terminal will feature nine gates, “lounge-style seating,” and retail concessions. Porter also notes that it will be open to sharing its terminal with other airlines. The rendering shows WestJet and Flair parked alongside its Embraer E195-E2 jets.

The new terminal aims to support 4 million passengers annually. That suggests more than 40 daily departures when things are running full speed. That is small compared to the 200+ daily departures at Trudeau. But that scale also makes the goal a reasonable one.

The airline hopes that the more compact terminal, with smaller crowds, will make for shorter lines and a more comfortable overall passenger experience, further attracting travelers versus Trudeau across town.

One potential shortcoming with the new facility, however, is mass transit options into downtown. The bus at Trudeau is far from perfect, but it gets the job done. How the new terminal at St Hubert will be connected to transit options remains to be seen. There is a commuter rail line running across the south side of the airfield, with a station just off the end of runway 6L. But the infrequent schedule and additional transfer needed to the terminal makes that a less than great option.

The transit challenges, as well as the longer distance to downtown could impede the terminal’s success. It is, in many ways, different from Billy Bishop in downtown Toronto. But the airline is keen to repeat the success it had at that airport in Montreal.

Porter also notes that it will not abandon Trudeau Airport as part of this move. But the carrier says it has identified more than 10 destinations with potential to be served once the new terminal opens, ranging from Vancouver in the west to St. John’s in the east.

As part of its commitment to have the terminal serve other airlines, Porter will align with Pascan Aviation, which currently operates the only commercial service at St Hubert Airport. Pascan’s current YHU network primarily serves regional Québec flights. The two intend to launch a codeshare to facilitate seamless movement of passengers between their respective airlines, across Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Porter will also build out an aggressive Montreal-Toronto commuter service. The carrier will serve both Toronto airports from the new Montreal operation, and also expects to keep service at Trudeau.

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