As to my blog of August 21, 2016, the Transwest Air deal is done and it is now a fully owned subsidiary of WestWind Aviation, which itself is owned 55% by the Athabasca Basin Development (ABD) and 25% owned Prince Albert Development Corporation (PADC), in short 80% First Nation owned with 20% owned by the employees of WestWind Aviation.
The First Nations now own every airline in the north to some degree (Air Creebec – Creeco, First Air & Air Inuit – Makivik Corp., Canadian North – Inuvialuit Development Corporation (IDA), Air North – Vuntut Development Corporation (VDC), Wasaya Airways, Aklak Air, Air Labrador and more).
Seems you cannot do business without the First Nations participating in the north these days, either through ownership shares or through joint ventures with subsidiaries like Kivalliq Air, a scheduled service subsidiary of Keewatin Air, owned by EIC, Kitikmoet Helicopters a joint venture with Great Slave Helicopters (GSH) owned by Discovery Air, Aqsaqniq Airways-medivac joint venture with Air Tindi, owned by Discovery Air, and many more small First Nations joint venture air services (e.g. Unaalik Aviation, Ookpik Aviation, Dehco Reegional Helicopters, K’ahsho Got’ne Helicopters, etc.).
Is this a good thing ? well as long as they are run professionally, which is a BIG question, though some like First Air under President/CEO Brock Friesen and Air North under Joe Sparling are very well run operations by professional, well knowledgeable and experienced airline executives, others not so professional, and Wasaya Airways is one of those that for years was riddled with safety violations and failed safety audits by Transport Canada for years, but never shut down, “too important to fail” ? and that is a concern today with several First Nations owned airlines.
Now, First Air (Makavik Corp) has made some unusual moves this year, which I do not understand if its mandate is to help the peoples of the Eastern Artic, like selling off their 2 highly valuable and rare Lockheed L-100-30 / L-382G Hercules civilian cargo aircraft (only +/- 35 in service globally out of 115 civilan built Hercules, new LM-100J priced at $US 65 million) to Lynden Air Cargo of Anchorage, Alaska, and will lease them back when needed, yet the aircraft are the only aircraft that can provide out sized cargo to move around the Artic.
Also, sold off its Kivalliq non aircraft assets to EIC (owner of Calm Air International), which takes over scheduled services, freight and charters in the central artic region ?? and then asks the Federal Government for a $42 million loan to finance “newer” ATR-42-500’s to replace its older ATR-42-300’s (2+ going to Air North). Not sure how those actions go with Makivik objectives.
Makivik, which in Inuktitut means “To Rise Up,” is a fitting name for an organization mandated to protect the rights, interests and financial compensation provided by the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the first comprehensive Inuit land claim in Canada, and the more recent offshore Nunavik Inuit Land Claim Agreement that came into effect in 2008. The Objectives are:
- To receive, administer, distribute and invest the compensation money payable to Nunavik Inuit, as provided for in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement;
- to relieve poverty, to promote the welfare, advancement, and education of the Inuit;
- to foster, promote, protect and assist in preserving the Inuit way of life, values and traditions;
- to exercise the functions vested in it by other Acts or the Agreement; and
- to develop and improve the Inuit communities and to improve their means of actions.
Meanwhile some First nations owned airlines have gone bust like (Air Mikisew 2011-Ft. McMurray, AB (B99/J31 PHOTO BELOW), First Nations Transportation 2009-Gimli, MB, NAC Air 2008-Thunder Bay, On.), and others.
There are a few hold outs left today to First Nations ownership, but not for long like the Harrold family at Northwestern Air Lease in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, then Ledcor with Summit Air, Joe McBryan with Buffalo Airways, Discovery Air with GSH and Air Tindi, all based in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, the fortress that has yet to be taken over by First Nations development corporations, for now.
The development of viable business opportunities is essential for the First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples future prosperity, and here the Economic Development Corporations (EDC) are the business development and drivers of growth and jobs. The EDC are growing but still have challenges with sales growth, capital investment, leadership, relationships with financial institutions, drawing investments and community employment.
I guess change is inevitable, and the sale of Transwest Air to WestWind Aviation this summer, is an example, the merge of 2 great airlines, Athabasca Airways and La Ronge Aviation created Transwest Air and one day that name itself will disappear as well under WestWind Aviation.
Too short you say ? I know it’s a rare short article for me ! till next time, cheers, and thank you for reading my blog.