UPDATE 1-Porter Airlines expansion plan could hit hurdles

Tue Apr 9, 2013 5:19pm EDT
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* Porter seen announcing CSeries order Wednesday

* Operating jets from Porter's Toronto base poses problems

* Porter order could create third cross-Canada carrier

* Order would make Porter first Canadian CSeries buyer

By Susan Taylor

TORONTO, April 9 (Reuters) - Canadian regional carrier Porter Airlines is expected to announce an order for 12 of Bombardier Inc's new CSeries jets on Wednesday, a likely challenge to flight restrictions at its Toronto Island airport base.

The privately held airline, which says it will announce "expansion plans" at a morning press conference, could create a third cross-country carrier with the deal, ratcheting up competition for Canada's No. 1 and No. 2 airlines, Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd.

Buying CSeries jets would give Porter the opportunity for longer flights and extra routes. But it raises questions about its ability to operate the CSeries from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, a short ferry ride from the city's core.

Under an agreement between the city of Toronto, the federal government and the Toronto Harbour Commission, almost no jet-powered aircraft, which would include the CSeries, may use the Island Airport. ()   Continued...