Category Archives: Canadian North

Makivik Corporation and Inuvialuit Development Group respond to Competition Bureau report on the merger of First Air and Canadian North

The ownership groups of First Air and Canadian North today issued the following statement in response to the Competition Bureau’s report regarding a merger between the airlines:

“While we acknowledge the Competition Bureau’s mandate to provide input to the Minister of Transport for his public interest review of the merger between First Air and Canadian North, its artificially restricted findings in this matter are of limited value and suggest a superficial understanding of the Inuit organizations proposing this solution for sustainable northern transportation.

“Our Inuit communities are surprised and extremely dismayed by the report and it is our sincere hope and expectation that the Minister will pursue his mandate of reconciliation and acknowledge that the very organizations proposing this merger have a constitutional mandate to represent the rights and interests of Nunavik and the Inuvialuit Region.

“The Bureau abandoned its usual practice of considering efficiencies associated with a merger of this nature. By neglecting to consider the overwhelming financial and non-financial benefits to northerners that will be generated, the Bureau’s assessment fails to recognize that a merger is necessary to sustain air travel to the North and relieve the substantial financial burden currently shouldered by Inuit Land Claim Organization (LCO) owners. This process is representative of southern-led institutions’ continued ignorance of northern businesses and we disagree with the Bureau’s decision to ignore the overwhelming and substantial positive impacts this transaction would have for northerners.

“The Bureau’s narrowed focus also ignores the economic realities (i.e., significant inefficiencies due to overlapping routes, insufficient demand and redundant schedules servicing small and sparsely settled remote communities over vast distances) which are driving the parties – who otherwise face the risk of being driven out of business – to do this deal. A merger will allow us to realize operational efficiencies that are needed to bridge the service gap and continue to be financially viable. Contrary to what the Bureau has written in its report, our airlines already face direct competition and the constant possibility of new competitors every day. Our steadfast goal is to provide customers with quality, sustainable air services at competitive prices as a strong, single airline.

“The Makivik Corporation and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation have been tasked by our Inuit beneficiaries, stakeholders and all Inuit to bridge the gap between northern and southern living conditions. Currently, exorbitantly high costs of living – in part due to the challenging and high-cost nature of operating businesses in the North – result in sub-standard living conditions for our peoples. Before Inuit can be meaningful participants in the national economy, they must be meaningful participants in the northern economy; an efficient Pan-Arctic airline is the only long-term, viable answer that will provide immediate benefits.

Copyright Photo: TMK Photography. 

“Our Inuit-led solution came about through hundreds of hours of discussion among Inuit and northern-elected leaders. The incomplete analysis in the Competition Bureau’s report demonstrates a lack of understanding of the northern reality which disproportionately and negatively impacts Inuit. We are reminded that the federal government has bailed-out southern national carriers, while northern airlines see continual increases in regulation and fees. The Government of Canada must not ignore Inuit autonomy, elected Inuit leaders and LCOs; continuing to do so only sacrifices the short and long-term socio-economic condition of all northerners.

First Air route map:

“Both corporations urge the Minister of Transport to exercise his authority under the Canada Transportation Act to evaluate this merger holistically, cognizant of the long-term needs of northerners and giving appropriate weight to the overwhelmingly positive impacts on certainty and flexibility of service, connectivity, safety, environment, and self-determination of our peoples. We also ask the Minister to take into account that the new airline will act as an economic driver in the circumpolar region as one of the North’s largest private-sector employers. Any meaningful analysis of the merger would consider these significant benefits.

Canadian North route map:

“We will continue working with Transport Canada as it completes its full analysis of the public interest promoted by this merger and considers the important economic, social and environmental factors that the Competition Bureau did not. We are confident that the merger between First Air and Canadian North will emerge as utterly essential to the public interest.

“Upon the completion of Transport Canada’s review and the receipt of all applicable regulatory approvals, we intend to finalize the merger. Until that time, we will continue providing our northern communities with access to safe and reliable air travel services at the financial expense of our Inuit beneficiaries.

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New milestone agreement reached to merge First Air and Canadian North

Canadian North Boeing 737-36N C-FGCN (msn 28590) YYZ (TMK Photography). Image: 928273.

Makivik Corporation (Makivik) and the Inuvialuit Corporate Group (ICG) have announced they have signed a definitive agreement to merge First Air and Canadian North in order to provide the best possible air services across the Arctic.

Following the receipt of government regulatory approvals, Makivik and ICG will proceed to complete the merger. The parties expect to complete the transaction by the end of 2018.

The proposed Pan-Arctic airline will operate under the name Canadian North and aircraft will feature the new First Air livery, including its Inukshuk logo.

Headquarters for the proposed airline will be located in Ottawa. The two airlines first announced their intention to merge on July 6, 2018.

Customers of First Air and Canadian North will see continuity in operations while the merger is finalized. The parties are committed to keeping customers up-to-date on all developments related to schedules and commercial flights on an ongoing basis.

The new, wholly Inuit-owned airline intends to be an economic driver in the circumpolar region as one of the North’s largest private-sector employers. Offering more flights to more destinations, the new airline hopes to help expand Arctic tourism in the communities it serves by increasing demand for tourist-related businesses and services.

The parties are pleased to announce this merger will result in significant service improvements for their valued customers, including:

  • Improved schedule: Better time-of-day options on certain routes, enabling day trips;
  • Better connectivity: Improved connections for Northern communities;
  • Increased service opportunities: Potential new routes to service more Northern destinations;
  • Existing service maintained: No reduction in flight options as a result of merger
  • Further enhanced safety: Will enable aircraft modernization across the network, as well as specialization in maintenance of Boeing 737 and ATR aircraft; and
  • Expanded charter business: Particularly related to Alberta natural resources and Northern charters, including for tourism.

As dedicated stewards of the Arctic environment, both Makivik and ICG are energized by the positive ecological impact the merged airline will have. The consolidation of duplicate, undercapacity flights, for example, will not only improve business efficiencies, but also significantly reduce GHG emissions and black carbon particulate along those routes.

A Lufthansa Consulting report commissioned by the Government of Nunavut supports the need for more efficiency in Nunavut air transportation services; the parties are confident the merger between First Air and Canadian North will meet these essential needs for all Northerners.

In the meantime, both First Air and Canadian North will continue providing Northerners with access to safe, friendly and reliable air travel services across the Arctic.

The First Air brand will be retired.

Top Copyright Photo: Canadian North Boeing 737-36N C-FGCN (msn 28590) YYZ (TMK Photography). Image: 928273.

Canadian North aircraft slide show:

First Air aircraft slide show:

Bottom Copyright Photo: First Air Boeing 737-406 Combi C-FFNE (msn 27233) YUL (Gilbert Hechema). Image: 942730.

Combi - Cargo up front

Route Maps:

Canadian North:

First Air:

 

First Air and Canadian North agree to merge

Canadian North Boeing 737-36N C-FKCN (msn 28573) YYC (Chris Sands). Image: 932428.

Makivik Corporation (Makivik) and the Inuvialuit Corporate Group (ICG) on July 6, 2018 announced they have signed an agreement in principle to merge First Air and Canadian North in order to provide the best possible essential air services across the Arctic. Makivik took this initiative to begin the discussion under the new direction of Charlie Watt, Sr.

Following execution of definitive agreements and the receipt of applicable regulatory approvals needed to establish a strong new entity, the proposed Pan-Arctic airline will operate under the name “Canadian North” and aircraft will feature new First Air livery, including its Inukshuk logo. Headquarters for the proposed airline will be located in Ottawa. Both Makivik and IDC recognize the value and potential in the North and in the Alberta market and remain committed to supporting and growing the Alberta presence. The parties expect to complete the merger by the end of 2018.

We expect this merger will:

  • Improve Arctic air services by offering customers greater reliability, better on-time service, and fewer interruptions;
  • Further enhance safety by enabling newer aircraft across the network, as well as specialization in maintenance of Boeing 737 and ATR aircraft;

  • Improve sustainability and efficiency of Arctic air services thus enabling us to more effectively meet demand across our vast service areas while addressing challenges related to pilot shortages; and
  • Contribute to Northern and Inuit economic development by creating a wholly Inuit-owned, new airline focused on Canada’s North.

Air service is not a luxury for Northerners; it is a vital lifeline which requires ongoing investment,” said Patrick Gruben, Chair of the Inuvialuit Development Corporation (IDC). “We are proud of Canadian North’s tremendous success while fulfilling its mandate to provide safe, stable air service to customers in Canada’s Northern regions and we look forward to further improving these services in partnership with Makivik Corporation.”

“The world is changing and we need to adapt to new realities,” said Charlie Watt Sr., Makivik President. “This is one way to assert our sovereignty across the Arctic.”

A report commissioned by the Government of Nunavut supports the need for more efficiency in Nunavut air transportation services; a merger of First Air and Canadian North is the only viable way to both meet and exceed these essential needs for Nunavummiut and all Northerners.

Customers of First Air and Canadian North will not see changes to services, including fares and scheduling, while we work toward achieving regulatory approval and finalizing the merger. Both parties are committed to keeping customers up-to-date on all developments related to scheduled and commercial flights on an ongoing basis.

By merging these airlines we look forward to new economic opportunities in Canada and Internationally, and to better air servies for Inuit across the circumpolar region.

In the meantime, both First Air and Canadian North will continue providing Northerners with access to safe, friendly and reliable air travel services across the Arctic.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by Canadian North and First Air): Canadian North Boeing 737-36N C-FKCN (msn 28573) YYC (Chris Sands). Image: 932428.

Canadian North aircraft slide show:

First Air aircraft slide show:

Below Copyright Photo: First Air Boeing 737-436 C-FFNM (msn 25839) YYZ (TMK Photography). Image: 942227.

First Air's 2017 new livery

Canadian North route map:

First Air route map:

The new Canadian North and First Air codeshare agreement starts on July 27

Canadian North Inc. (Yellowknife) and First Air (Ottawa) announced in May they had reached an agreement to codeshare on selected flights operated by both airlines in the far north region of Canada. The two carriers had previously planned to merge but later called off the merger. The codeshare agreement was their alternative to a planned merger.

The codeshare agreement will start on July 27 with significant changes for both carriers.

According to both Canadian regional carriers, “Introducing this codeshare will significantly improve flight schedules, provide greater choice for customers and continue to improve the sustainability of our airline. This agreement is less complex than a merger agreement, however many of the benefits envisioned previously in a merger scenario will be realized with it. Unlike a merger though, where a single merged firm sets prices post-merger, under this codeshare agreement each party will continue to independently set prices and compete for business.”

Canadian North continued;

Canadian North logo 2

“Our airline operates in one of the most challenging geographical and economic environments anywhere in the world,” says Canadian North President Steve Hankirk. “With escalating costs, shrinking travel budgets and increasing competition, we must always be looking for new, more efficient ways of offering our scheduled service to northerners. This codeshare agreement is a breakthrough that brings even more choice to our northern customers and ensures our long term sustainability.”

Canadian North northern point of view

Above: Canadian North: “Our northern point of view” (click for full size view).

Canadian North has now published a new flight schedule in its reservation system allowing customers to make reservations through all booking channels. The first codeshare flight will take to the skies in late July. The following are highlights of the enhancements being made to the current flight schedule as a result of the codeshare agreement:

Iqaluit – Ottawa

The flight schedule will be enhanced by separating current flight times,
delivering additional choices for our customers, with early morning and
early afternoon departure times.

Cambridge Bay and the Kitikmeot

Daily Boeing jet flights between Yellowknife and Cambridge Bay will be
implemented, replacing the existing Dash-8 turboprop flights.

Edmonton, Yellowknife and the Mackenzie Valley

Daily jet service up and down the Mackenzie Valley will continue, and a
Monday and Friday non-stop flight will be added between Yellowknife and
Inuvik.

A Monday morning flight will be introduced from Yellowknife to Edmonton.

Trans Arctic

Combined service will continue with three days per week service.

Graph of the changes:

Canadian North-First Air Codeshare Graph

 

More details from Airline Route: CLICK HERE

Top Copyright Photo: Ton Jochems/AirlinersGallery.com. Canadian North’s Bombardier (de Havilland Canada) DHC-8-106 Dash 8 C-GRGI (msn 304) taxies at the yellowknife base.

Canadian North aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

First Air aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

First Air logo 2

Bottom Copyright Photo: Ton Jochems/AirlinersGallery.com. First Air’s ATR 42-300 C-GKLB (msn 331) with the wolf on the tail is also seen at Yellowknife, a common connecting point for both carriers.

Canadian North current route map (click on the map for the full side view):

Canadian North 7.2015 Route Map

Canadian North Videos: From our partner JustPlanes:

AG Slide Shows

 

Video: Pilot’s view of an approach into windy Rankin Inlet (new videos from JustPlanes)

New videos from Just Planes. Above: a windy approach into Rankin Inlet in Canada’s North.

Video Below: Canadian North and the Boeing 737-200:

Video Below: Boeing 727s in action at Newark (1997):

Video Below: Newark memories (1997):

Canadian North unveils a Canadian Football League logojet for the Grey Cup

Canadian North 737-300 C-GCNO (14-CFL)(Grd) YEG (Sam Hawkins)(LR)

Canadian North (Calgary and Yellowknife) today (November 18) unveiled this new Canadian Football League (CFL) logojet at its Edmonton hangar for the upcoming Grey Cup Championship Game. The right side of Boeing 737-36N C-GCNO (msn 28596) carries the team logos of the Eastern teams and left side the western teams.

The airline issued this statement on November 18:

On November 18, at an exciting “reveal” ceremony, the CFL and Canadian North jointly unveiled a custom-painted Boeing 737-300 aircraft, emblazoned with the CFL logo and the logos of all nine CFL franchise teams. This eye-catching plane will be used to fly the 102nd Grey Cup Champions home from Vancouver, British Columbia on Monday, December 1 and will serve as a highly visible billboard for the CFL and its teams wherever it lands.

Canadian North is the premier charter provider for Canada’s resource sector, top sport franchises and air-inclusive vacationers. The CFL and Canadian North announced a three-year partnership earlier this year that made Canadian North the official airline of the CFL.

Photos Below: Canadian North. Both sides are displayed at the unveiling event:

Canadian North 737-300 C-GCNO (14-CFL-left)(Grd) YEG (Canadian North)(LRW)

Canadian North 737-300 C-GCNO (14-CFL-right)(Grd) YEG (Canadian North)(LRW)

Video: The painting of the aircraft:

Canadian North is the official airline of the CFL.

Canadian North CFL logo

On July 9, 2014 the airline announced it had become the official airline of the CFL:

Canadian North is proud to become the official airline of the Canadian Football League. This new three-year partnership will include flying the East and West Division Champions to the 102nd Grey Cup game in Vancouver this November.

“There is nothing more Canadian than the CFL and we are excited to be partnering with both the league and the Grey Cup,” said Steve Hankirk, President of Canadian North. “We’re thrilled to broaden our relationship with the CFL and believe this creates opportunities for more teams to charter with Canadian North.”

Mark Cohon, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League, said: “Canadian North prides itself in contributing to the communities it serves, and that makes the airline a great fit for our league, which has a long history of doing the same.”

In other news, the company is planning to expand with more charters to warmer climates in early 2015.

Top Copyright Photo: Sam Hawkins/Canadian North.

Canadian North aircraft slide show:

JustPlanes Video:

Canadian North and First Air terminate their merger discussions

Makivik Corporation and NorTerra Inc., respectively the shareholders of First Air (Ottawa) and Canadian North (Yellowknife), in April 2014 agreed to hold discussions leading to the merger of their operations consistent with a merger of equals, subject to the successful conclusion of negotiations and regulatory review.

According to the two parties, “The potential merger was intended to create a single airline entity that builds on the strengths and identities of the two companies. A merger would improve the sustainability of these critical Inuit birthright enterprises and would also create better air services and new economic development opportunities across the north.”

Please see the previous report with route maps of both carriers: CLICK HERE

The merger discussions failed. The two parties issued this joint statement:

Makivik Corporation and NorTerra Inc., respectively the shareholders of First Air and Canadian North, announce that they have terminated discussions aimed at merging their airline operations, and no such further discussions are envisaged.

Canadian North and First Air will continue to have a positive working relationship aimed at providing the best possible service to customers in a competitive marketplace.

Flight operations and services at both airlines remain unaffected. The parties will have no further comment on the matter.

Canadian North and its founding companies (Canadian Airlines, Pacific Western Airlines, Transair, Nordair) has proudly served Canada’s North with passenger and cargo services for more than 80 years. Offering scheduled flights to 19 destinations, Canadian North proudly serves the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, via the southern gateways of Edmonton and Ottawa. Canadian North is also the premier provider of fly-in/fly-out charter services for large resource sector clients requiring safe, efficient and economical air transportation. Charter flights are also offered across North America for sports teams, cruise lines and large groups. Canadian North is a subsidiary of NorTerra Inc., which is owned by the Inuvialuit Development Corporation, representing the Inuvialuit of the Western Arctic. For more information please visit http://www.canadiannorth.com.

First has a fleet of 23 aircraft including the only two civilian owned and operated Hercules cargo aircraft in Canada, First Air has been connecting the people of the North for over 65 years.

First Air offers scheduled, cargo and charter services to more northern destinations than any other airline. First Air is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Makivik Corporation and has around 1,000 employees, of which more than 450 work and live in the North. For more information please visit http://www.firstair.ca.

Top Copyright Photo: Tony Storck/AirlinersGallery.com. Canadian North’s DHC-8-106 Dash 8 C-GRGO (msn 258) taxies at Yellowknife.

Canadian North Aircraft Slide Show: AG Slide Show

First Air Aircraft Slide Show: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: TMK Photography/AirlinersGallery.com. Set against an angry sky, Boeing 737-2R2C C-FNVK (msn 23130) of First Air displays the polar bear on the tail.