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Robert Deluce, president of Porter Airlines

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

Amid economic turmoil, Porter Airlines Inc. has again suspended plans for an initial public offering.

"There isn't any real merit in us rushing the IPO. It makes sense to wait until market conditions are appropriate," Porter chief executive officer Robert Deluce said in an interview Thursday.

Privately owned Porter, which flies from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, is in solid financial shape, he said.

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While Mr. Deluce said he would like to take another run at launching an IPO in 2012, "I don't even want to predict when it might be now. If somebody can tell when things will get back to normal, and when there is a better market for doing an IPO, then I could tell you when we might do it. There is a lot of uncertainty out there."

After launching in October, 2006, Porter has carved out a niche, focusing on capturing business traffic in the Eastern Triangle of Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, as well as expansion into the United States. Porter attempted an IPO in the spring of 2010, but scrapped the financing plans, citing unstable markets at the time.

"There isn't any logic to try to do an IPO this year. In due course, when there's a better market, we will come back," Mr. Deluce said, after announcing that Porter has won another 16 daily slots at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, beating out Air Canada for the right to introduce new flights at the terminal.

He said specific route decisions will be made in 2012. Porter is aiming to expand domestically and also has plans to start service to Washington Dulles International Airport. Another possible U.S. destination is Philadelphia International Airport, while options in Ontario include Timmins, North Bay and London. A slot is defined as a single takeoff or landing.

For Air Canada, the awarding of 16 new slots to Porter comes as a letdown. The carrier, which launched service between Billy Bishop and Montreal in May, has 30 slots at the island airport, located near Toronto's downtown core. By contrast, Porter will now have 172 slots, up from 156 currently being operated.

"It is disappointing that we have been denied the opportunity to expand our services and choice for travellers from Toronto City Centre at this time. However, Air Canada remains committed to the island airport, encouraged by the customer response we have received since resuming flights there this spring," Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said in a statement.

Air Canada and Porter both use Bombardier Q400 turboprops at the island airport.

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"The slot allocation process is based on defined criteria set out by the Toronto Port Authority's internationally accredited, independent slot co-ordinator," Porter said in a release.

The TPA, which oversees the airport, said it conducted "an extensive analysis that evaluated the key factors affecting airport operations," with advice provided by Airport Coordination Ltd. and Jacobs Consulting.

"TPA appointed ACL to independently manage the commercial carrier demand and allocate the available slots," said the port authority, noting that the methodology used to choose Porter and exclude Air Canada in this round "is similar to those used at other North American airports."

Decisions for allocating new slots included looking at whether the carrier would operate a route year-round and the "ongoing TPA corporate objective to increase and diversify the number and choice of destinations" to meet the demands of business and leisure fliers, said the port authority.

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About the Author

Brent Jang is a business reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. He joined the Globe in 1995. His former positions include transportation reporter in Toronto, energy correspondent in Calgary and Western columnist for Report on Business. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway student newspaper. Mr. More

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