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A Porter Airlines aircraft passes the Toronto skyline on approach for landing at the Toronto Island Airport Sep 24, 2013.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

The influential travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler has named Canada's Porter Airlines the best small airline in the world.

For the first time, Porter took first place in the small airline category of the publication's annual Reader's Choice Awards. The Toronto-based airline has finished in second place in the category for the past two years.

Overall, Porter ranked third among airlines in all categories. Fellow Canadian carrier WestJet finished fifth in the small-airline category. Air Canada finished out of the running in all major categories.

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The Condé Nast award should bring international recognition to Porter, which operates out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on the Toronto Islands. Since launching in 2006, Porter has steadfastly separated itself from the competition with an emphasis on customer service and offering amenities like lounge access and free beer and wine on flights.

"This is incredible recognition for everyone at Porter," said president and CEO Robert Deluce in a statement. "We're proud to represent Canada, our home city of Toronto and home airport at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport through this achievement."

And the timing of the honour couldn't be better for Porter, which is currently looking to expand its flight schedule to destinations including Vancouver, San Francisco and Los Angeles starting in 2016. It is seeking approval from the city to expand its island operation, including extended runways that would accommodate new Bombardier planes that the airline has dubbed "whisper jets."

Close to 80,000 readers took part in the 2013 Condé Nast survey, casting a total of 1.3-million votes.

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