THUNDER BAY — Access to the nation’s capital Is now a direct flight away for Thunder Bay travellers.
Porter Airlines on Monday launched it’s new Thunder Bay-to-Ottawa route, a twice-daily flight that provides passengers with more options into and out of the city, and an expanded network of connections to destinations far and wide.
It was one of three new routes introduced by Porter out of Ottawa International Airport, a list that includes a daily flight to Boston and two flights a day to New York City, via Newark, N.J.
Brad Cicero, director of communications at Porter, said the Thunder Bay-to-Ottawa route was born out of customer demand.
“Ottawa has always been one of the most popular connecting markets through Toronto, so now having two non-stop flights a day to Ottawa we think will be a nice complement to this,” Cicero said, just before the inaugural flight from Ottawa landed at Thunder Bay Airport.
It marks the first time in about 20 years that there has been a direct flight to Ottawa from Thunder Bay, and a first for Porter, which first began flying to the city in 2009.
The convenience factor is great for passengers looking to travel to other Porter routes.
“I think it is a good option for connecting flights, especially when you consider Ottawa and Billy Bishop … where both of those are smaller, manageable airports and offer connecting services. You don’t have to deal with the larger Pearson International Airport and getting from gate to gate or different areas or terminals withing the airport, so it makes it a lot more convenient,” Cicero said.
Ed Schmidtke, president and CEO of the Thunder Bay International Airports Authority, said any additional flights into and out of the city are welcome news to both the airport and its passengers.
Options are great, Schmidtke said.
“Connectivity just helps in general, more importantly than which carrier is flying and which on isn’t. The fact that we have Ottawa back for the first time in almost 20 years, that’s a very big improvement in our connectivity with the rest of the country,” he said.
WestJet recently announced it was stopping daily flights between Thunder Bay and Toronto, and Flair Airlines halted a plan to also offer direct flights to Ottawa. WestJet will offer flights to Winnipeg and Calgary out of Thunder Bay Airport.
Schmidtke said the airports authority is in regular communication with airlines about possible new routes, though whether it results in additional flights remains to be seen.
“The idea of direct non-stop to Ottawa is something Porter has been watching for years and that they decided it’s now time is great news.”
The flight paid off for a couple of dozen passengers on the inaugural flight out of Thunder Bay to Ottawa, each of them given a $150 flight voucher for future travel on the airline. Alison Seymour won a trip for two to anywhere Porter flies.
“It means a well-deserved vacation for me and my boyfriend, Shakail,” the Ottawa resident said.
Introductory rates to Ottawa from Thunder Bay on Porter start at $366 return.