It looks, at first glance, like another entry in Porter Airlines expanding list of destination offerings. At second glance it may not be little more than a grab at the publicity brass ring.
With great fanfare, Porter announced an interline agreement with Emirates Airlines. The airline is a Middle East carrier owned by Dubai’s investment fund, a government owned entity. The interline agreement lets passengers buy a ticket through Emirates (not Porter) for travel from Toronto to Dubai via Boston or Washington with baggage ending up at the destination.
A code-sharing agreement allows customers to book one ticket on one airline for use on two or more airlines for the same trip. This is handy for passengers who travel on, for example, Air Canada and British Airways to arrive at a destination that Air Canada doesn’t service directly, Dubai for instance. It also means as in an interline agreement that passengers pick up baggage at the final destination.
However, interline agreements are more complicated. For instance passengers may be able to buy a Porter ticket on Emirates’ website but Porter customers aren’t able to buy an Emirates ticket on Porter’ website.
While the Porter announcement would have passengers use Porter to get to Dubai, there are options. As such, passengers travelling to Dubai, depending on trip origin, have two options: one with Porter; one without Porter.
Option with Porter
There are two possible scenarios for Porter customers.
The first scenario is for Porter customers who live outside Toronto. For example, Porter’s Ottawa customers would fly Porter to Billy Bishop Toronto Centre Airport (BBTCA). The next hop would be from BBTCA to either Boston or Washington. The third hop would be from Boston or Washington to Dubai.
From the Porter announcement and absent a code-sharing agreement, it looks like Porter’s Ottawa customers would book twice. First, they would book on the Porter site to get from Ottawa to BBTCA. Then the leg from BBTCA to Boston or Washington and on to Dubai would require a separate ticket purchase through the Emirates site.
Of course, they could use a travel agent or have their executive assistant do it for them.
The second scenario is for Porter customers resident in Toronto who find BBTCA more convenient than Toronto Pearson International Airport (Pearson). They could book online through the Emirates site.
Option without Porter
As above, there are two possible scenarios.
And again, the first is for clients who live outside Toronto. In this case, Ottawa passengers could fly directly to Boston or Washington and pick up the Emirates flight there.
They could also fly directly to Toronto and connect to a Monday, Tuesday or Friday Emirates flight to Dubai or use Air Canada to London UK to connect to a British Airways to Dubai, any day of the week.
Thirdly, they could fly one of several airlines out of Ottawa connecting in the U.S., Europe, or the Middle East.
The third choice allows for code sharing. The second choice, the Air Canada connection, allows for code sharing. The first choice does not as Emirates North American code-sharing agreements are quite limited.
Alternatively, economy-minded Toronto-based passengers could fly Turkish Airlines out of Pearson with a connection in Istanbul on one ticket at a great savings.
Emirates and the U.S. Factor
Why the Porter-Emirate Agreement now?
The U.S. has an open-skies agreement with the Gulf States, including Dubai. An open skies agreement is a bilateral agreement that allows the two signatories to agree to liberalize commercial aviation services in order to increase activity.
Three U.S. carriers, Delta, United and American, have challenged the agreements claiming that, in the case of Emirates, the Dubai Government is subsidizing its operation. The Three U.S. carriers have asked the U.S. Government to look again at the agreements.
Emirates may be looking to Porter to extend its North American reach as the dispute drags on. Their interline agreement comes at a handy time for Emirates. Or course, Porter gets bragging rights.
A Porter Advantage?
The Porter–Emirates interline agreement is typical of the marketing buzz that is the forte of Porter’s president and CEO. At first glance, it looks like another feather in the cap of the airline that’s still running 50% sales even after making a bundle selling its BBTCA terminal.
How profitable will the agreement turn out?
Given the various choices available, price, flight duration and booking convenience will likely affect passenger choices.
For Toronto-based travellers, the Toronto-Dubai direct flight with Emirates is the quickest and most convenient. Connecting flights out of Toronto are most economical if longer.
Out-of-towners would have to figure the price, time and booking convenience of flying in and out of Toronto or using an airline from their home town to make connections.
To keep matters simple for price and time comparisons, here’s how one-way tickets Toronto – Dubai add up given four options. Note: prices listed below are for the week of June 8.
The Bottom Line?
Time-sensitive business travelers, Porter’s target audience, can take the 12 Hr. 45 Min. direct flight on Emirates on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays out of Pearson on Emirates.
Time-sensitive business travellers who can’t wait for a Monday, Wednesday or Friday can take a 15 Hr. and 55 Min. flight on Air Canada. They pay $12.89 more but save an hour over the Porter option and can collect Aeroplan points.
Price-sensitive customers who don’t mind an extra three hours over the Porter/Emirate flight can save $350.11 on Turkish Airlines.
So where’s the Porter advantage?