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Porter announces deal with Qatar Airways, aiming for 3-5 more partnerships by year's end

Porter Airlines is known for its fresh approach to air travel: rather than paring down service and customer experience elements as other airlines have done in recent years, with cuts in everything from baggage allowances to free meals to the legroom between seats, Porter has gone in the other direction. With stylized staff uniforms, a user-friendly website and perks like free coffee and shortbread in their airport lounge, Porter has attracted customers by trying to make the experience of flying more fun and more friendly.

Based on Toronto's small island airport,  however, Porter is an airline with a fairly limited geographic range. Currently it offers flights to 19 cities in the eastern half of North America; running long-haul flights out of the island airport isn't a viable option. So last week Porter announced its first interline partnership, with Qatar Airways. The agreement will allow Qatar passengers who begin their journeys in Doha to fly to Porter destinations as part of a single itinerary, connecting in either Montreal or Washington, DC.

"We had a lot of airlines who had approached us over the years," says Brad Cicero, communications manager for Porter. But the airline had to do some work before it could enter into any such arrangements, upgrading its back-end systems to handle more complex itineraries and monitor bookings effectively. Once Porter was ready to look for partners, it focused on other airlines that shared its customer-friendly approach.

"Qatar was always high on the list," explains Cicero. "We like their approach to service." (Qatar Airways was ranked the world's best airline last month, for the second year in a row, by Business Insider.) It's the first of several partnerships the airline is planning; Cicero says "anywhere from three to five could be in place" by the end of 2012. 

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Brad Cicero,  Manager, Communications & Public Affairs, Porter Airlines
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