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A Embraer E195-E2 jet under construction.NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images

The upstart Toronto airline with a raccoon as its mascot is poised to become a bigger pest to the larger carriers.

Porter Airlines is set to receive the first of its Embraer E-195 jets this month, a 132-seat aircraft that will drive the expansion of the carrier’s network and help it compete with its mainline rivals.

Michael Deluce, the chief executive officer of privately owned Porter, said the airline is targeting economy-class passengers, who comprise 90 per cent of the market, and will extend its reach to all of North America, as well as Caribbean vacation spots.

Unlike its fleet of turboprops at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, the new planes will be based at Toronto Pearson International Airport, putting Porter in direct competition with Air Canada, Air Transat, WestJet Airlines and the low-cost carriers in Eastern Canada.

Porter Airlines ordered to pay $130-million to operator of Toronto’s island airport terminal for non-payment of fees during pandemic

Mr. Deluce said in an interview that the new schedule and destinations will be announced “in the coming days.” Porter is planning to offer multiday service, he explained, not the twice-weekly flights offered by so-called low-cost airlines.

“We’re taking the platform that we have built, which we’ve had in place over the last 16 years, and using that foundation to really elevate economy flying for everyone across a much broader network that touches all of North America,” he said. “It will be the same Porter product but enhanced across all of North America today. We’ve been limited really in our range from our existing aircraft and focus at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to a smaller network of destinations.”

The move to Pearson with jets is a milestone for Porter, which was founded by Mr. Deluce’s father, Robert Deluce, 16 years ago. Porter flies 29 De Havilland Dash 8 turboprop aircraft, which seat 78, out of Billy Bishop, located on an island adjacent to downtown Toronto. Jets are not allowed at that airport, and plane capacity is limited by the length of its runway.

Porter has been embroiled in a legal battle over fees with the owner of the island airport’s terminal, Nieuport Aviation Infrastructures Partners LP. An Ontario judge recently ordered Porter to pay Nieuport $130-million in damages. Porter has appealed the ruling.

Mr. Deluce said Porter will continue to fly its Dash 8s from the island airport, despite the range limitations it imposes and the financial dispute.

Porter is scheduled to receive 50 of the Brazilian jets by the end of 2024 and has options for another 50, for a total purchase price of $7.4-billion at list prices, according to previous announcements.

Central to Porter’s new push is the Embraer’s single-aisle, paired-seat configuration. “We believe two-by-two seating is a game changer based on all of our market research focus groups,” Mr. Deluce said. “Passengers universally hate middle seats, and we will have none.”

The Sao Paulo-made E-195 is quieter and more fuel-efficient than older models. Passengers will have free WiFi and streaming services and enjoy Porter’s usual level of service – free beer, wine and snacks, with meal options on longer flights.

“When you look at how we stack up, we think that our service will be distinctly different than any other economy product in North America, and it’s going to be highly disruptive,” Mr. Deluce said.

Porter employs about 2,000 people, but that will climb to about 5,000 over the next two years as its fleet grows. Mr. Deluce said the airline is hiring and training flight crews and has not seen the pilot shortage faced by its U.S. counterparts. Pilots are training to fly the E-195 on a flight simulator at Toronto’s Downsview Airport.

Mr. Deluce said making Porter a publicly traded company is a possibility after the growth strategy is well developed, but that would be more than two years away, given that the airline has no need for new financing.