Arctic carriers First Air and Canadian North are to merge and say the deal will mean the two airlines will provide better and essential air services across the region.
The owners are Makivik Corporation (Makivik) and the Inuvialuit Corporate Group (ICG) and it follows receipt of applicable regulatory approvals needed to establish a 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 carrier will be located in Ottawa. Both airlines said they recognise 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.
Both expect this merger will improve Arctic air services by offering customers greater reliability, better on-time service, and fewer interruptions; and further enhance safety by enabling newer aircraft across the network, as well as specialisation in maintenance of Boeing 737 and ATR aircraft.
They also believe the merger will improve sustainability and efficiency of Arctic air services thus enabling them 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.
Inuvialuit Development Corporation chair, Patrick Gruben said: “Air service is not a luxury for Northerners; it is a vital lifeline which requires ongoing investment.
“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 Makivik president,Charlie Watt. “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, and both will work toward achieving regulatory approval and finalising the merger. Both parties said they are committed to keeping customers up-to-date on all developments related to scheduled and commercial flights on an ongoing basis.
By merging the airlines said they look forward to new economic opportunities in Canada and Internationally, and to better air services for Inuit across the circumpolar region.