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Porter Airlines new crew base 'good news' for Thunder Bay, Ontario

Feb 03, 2018 05:54AM ● Published by Editor

Porter Airlines staff and officials, along with representatives from the Thunder Bay airport and the city's Chamber of Commerce cut a cake to celebrate the opening of the airline's new crew base in the northwestern Ontario city. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

Crew base in Thunder Bay could position company for future growth as it plans expansion into the west.  

By Cathy Alex, CBC News Posted: Feb 02, 2018

Porter Airlines is set to become a frequent flyer to Thunder Bay, after the company announced Thursday that it is establishing a permanent crew base of 40 pilots and flight attendants in the northwestern Ontario city.

"I can't help but feel quite ecstatic the opening of our crew base here and Thunder Bay has been a great destination for us, " said Robert Deluce, Porter's president and CEO during a cake cutting ceremony at the Thunder Bay International Airport.

Porter currently offers flights to cities across Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, as well as a number of major American cities, including New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington and Orlando.

Robert Deluce Porter Airlines

Robert Deluce, the president and CEO of Porter Airlines, says Thunder Bay has always been a "great destination" for the company. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

Creating a crew base in Thunder Bay is "the natural progression and we have aspirations of operating further west and this could well position us for some of that growth and development in the future," said Deluce.

Some of the new personnel will be moving to Thunder Bay from other parts of Canada, while others will be recruited locally.

"It took about five minutes to make the family decision to take the base (job)", said Mika Rajamaki, the new base captain.

Mika Rajamaki Porter Airlines

Mika Rajamaki, the base captain for Porter Airlines in Thunder Bay, Ont., says he thinks fellow pilots will be attracted to the city's outdoor lifestyle. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

His wife is from Thunder Bay, and he said they would often come to the city to visit extended family. He also appreciates the outdoor lifestyle, and the more relaxed pace of life.

"When you're in aviation, you're always out of the big cities – Vancouver, Toronto – and you have the big city issues, high cost of living, long traffic. I'm only 10 minutes from the airport. I don't have to check rush hour time or Google Maps to see what the traffic is like going to the airport, so it's a much more stress-free environment," said Rajamaki.

The announcement is "good news" for the city, and its aviation community, said Ed Schmidtke, the president and CEO of the Thunder Bay airport authority.

Ed Schmidtke Thunder Bay International Airport Authority

Ed Schmidtke, the president and CEO of the Thunder Bay International Airport Authority, says Porter's decision to establish a permanent crew base in the city is a show of confidence for the aviation community in northwestern Ontario. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

The decision demonstrates that Thunder Bay is "a place that Porter is confident it can recruit to, and recruit from, and that's the most important part. This allows us to have other conversations on multiple different levels, and it certainly offers stability of service and it offers the opportunity to have discussions about different types of services," he said.

"These are conversations that are easier to have when you have 40 people based here, than when you don't," said Schmidtke.

Porter is already increasing its services to Thunder Bay by offering up to seven daily round-trip flights to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

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Porter Airlines celebrates the grand opening of its new crew base in Thunder Bay
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