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Robert Deluce, president of Porter Airlines, right, checks in with gate staff while boarding a flight in Toronto

J.P. MOCZULSKI/J.P. MOCZULSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAI

The head of Porter Airlines Inc. is personally suing Air Canada, claiming the country's largest airline has broken an agreement to give him and his spouse free travel passes for life.

Robert Deluce's family sold Air Ontario and Austin Airways to Air Canada in 1986. He is seeking up to $5-million from the airline, a rival to Porter.

Mr. Deluce claims Air Canada agreed to provide him and his wife the passes as part of the sale of the two airlines.

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He said Air Canada stopped honouring the arrangement last fall without any warning.

"I perceive this as being just another in a series of tactical moves by Air Canada to distract and influence Porter," Mr. Deluce said in a statement Tuesday.

"Nevertheless, we are committed to growing Porter, continuing to successfully attract market share, and lowering prices for consumers."

The airlines have a history of legal clashes, most notably over claims by Air Canada that it should have access to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Porter's main hub since 2006.

Air Canada obtained initial approval to fly into and out of the island airport near Toronto's downtown last month.

A spokesman for Air Canada declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but offered up a mild jab at Mr. Deluce's claim.

"It is completely understandable that Mr. Deluce would prefer to fly Air Canada, with our executive class and ... all these other exclusive services we have rather than just on Porter," Peter Fitzpatrick said.

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Porter said the claim will be considered by the Ontario Superior Court.

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