Thunder Bay Porter Airlines crew to receive emergency wage subsidy amid COVID-19

Porter Airlines plans to access the federal government’s emergency wage subsidy so hundreds of temporarily laid off crew members can be paid, including those from Thunder Bay. 

On Friday, the airline released a statement saying that they will access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which will provide 75 per cent wage coverage for staff. 

“Our team is showing outstanding dedication during a time when most are unable to work,” Porter Airlines CEO Michael Deluce said in a written release. 

“As we look ahead to restarting flights when it is appropriate to do so, we are doing everything possible to stay connected with our people.” 

CEWS is capped at $58,700 annually, which translates to $847 per week, before deductions. At this time the funding is available until June 6.

Porter halted all flights March 21

On March 21, the airline had temporarily suspended all flights in support of the public health response to COVID-19. This meant that the majority of Porter’s 1,500 workers, including all those based in Thunder Bay, were temporarily laid off. 

A small group of Porter employees did remain actively employed, to maintain “business continuity,” the airlines said. 

The airline said they waited to apply for the emergency wage subsidy as they “took time to understand how CEWS will work in practice and provide this information to our team before deciding to use it,” Porter spokesperson Brad Cicero said via email. 

In 2018, the airline company established a crew base in the city of Thunder Bay with nearly 30 pilots and flight attendants. The following year, the company announced the opening of a maintenance base in the city, which was expected to create 18 new jobs.

Any crew members temporarily laid off and returning to payroll will still remain at home on “inactive status.” 

“Overall, CEWS helps the company maintain business continuity while flights are not operating and provide greater income support for many our team members,” Cicero said. 

Some team members have also had their health benefits maintained by Porter. That service will continue and employees will have access to an employee assistance program and other wellness programs. 

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