Porter CEO sues Air Canada over free travel

Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:39pm EDT
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Robert Deluce, president and chief executive of Porter Airlines, said on Tuesday he is suing Air Canada because the airline halted a free lifetime travel pass for him and his wife.

Deluce's start-up airline, Porter, is already locked in a court battle with Air Canada over slots at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, a small airport close to Toronto's downtown.

Deluce said Air Canada, Canada's biggest airline, agreed to provide the free travel passes to him and his wife when his family sold Air Ontario and Austin Airways to it in 1986.

The Deluce couple enjoyed free travel for about 23 years until Air Canada "without warning, stopped honoring the arrangements" last fall, Deluce said in a statement. He is suing the airline for C$5 million ($4.8 million).

"I perceive this as being just another in a series of tactical moves by Air Canada to distract and influence Porter," Deluce said.

Porter, which Deluce founded nearly four years, is proving a tough competitor for Air Canada and other carriers in Eastern Canada.

Its monopoly on flying out of the conveniently located Billy Bishop airport, along with its business class-for-all service, has proved a hit, especially with business travelers.

Air Canada has filed a lawsuit against Porter and the Toronto Port Authority over what it says is the unfair allocation of slots at Billy Bishop.

($1=$1.05 Canadian)

(Reporting by Nicole Mordant; editing by Peter Galloway)