About First Air

Latest News

First Air Announces New Senior Executives

October 1, 2018

October 1, 2018 – Kuujjuaq, QC – Following the announcement on Friday September 28th regarding the merger of the airlines First Air and Canadian North, the Board of Directors is announcing a change of leadership. The Board and Makivik Corporation wish to express their sincere appreciation for the leadership of Mr. Brock Friesen in his role as President and Chief Executive Officer. “I’m pleased to support these changes at First Air,” stated Makivik President Charlie Watt. “Friday was an historic day for Inuit and Inuvialuit as we signed an agreement to merge the two airlines by the end of the year. We are embarking in a new era of northern aviation, and we would like to thank Brock Friesen for his five years of service to First Air as President and CEO.”

The Board is pleased to announce that Chris Avery has been appointed as the new First Air President and Chief Executive Officer. He was formerly the Vice-President of Customer and Commercial Operations at the airline. Mr. Avery joined First Air in 2017, and has taken on progressively more senior positions in his 25 years of aviation and travel industry experience, including senior management positions at WestJet, Alaska Airlines, Canadian Airlines International, and Transat Holidays.

Mr. Johnny Adams will concurrently take on a greater role in the airline as Executive Chairman, expanding his role as the current Chairman of the First Air Board. Mr. Adams has a long history of public and private executive service in the Nunavik region and beyond, and extensive business experience as an entrepreneur. Mr. Adams has served on the First Air board of directors for over ten years and since June 2017, has been the Chairman of the First Air Board of Directors. “With our new planned partnership with Inuvialuit Corporate Group, we are focusing on cooperative relationships with our new partners and on the customers and communities we currently serve as well as on strategic opportunities on the horizon. We have great confidence in Mr. Avery’s abilities to deliver on this new direction.”

The senior executive changes took effect as of October 1, 2018.

-30-

Contact:

William Tagoona
Director of Communications
Makivik Corporation
Tel. 819-964-2925
wtagoona@makivik.org

Makivik is the land claims organization mandated to manage the heritage funds of the Inuit of Nunavik provided for under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. Makivik's role includes the administration and investment of these funds and the promotion of economic growth by providing assistance for the creation of Inuit-operated businesses in Nunavik. Makivik promotes the preservation of Inuit culture and language as well as the health, welfare, relief of poverty, and education of Inuit in the communities.

www.makivik.org

Dan Valin
Manager, Marketing and Communications
First Air
(613) 254-6294
dvalin@firstair.ca

About First Air

With over 70 years of flying experience, First Air is the leading airline in Canada’s Arctic, providing scheduled service to Northern Communities with connections to Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg and Edmonton.

First Air is 100% owned by Makivik Corporation, representing the Inuit beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

www.firstair.ca

Download the news release


New milestone agreement reached to merge First Air and Canadian North to better serve Pan-Arctic communities

Combined airline will offer solid service improvements for passengers

September 28, 2018

OTTAWA, September 28, 2018 - Makivik Corporation (Makivik) and the Inuvialuit Corporate Group (ICG) today 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 combined airline will have more opportunity to generate economic spinoffs in our communities,” said Charlie Watt Sr., Makivik President. “This agreement solidifies our shared vision for a Pan-Arctic Airline Company which will eventually offer a better circumpolar service than ever before.”

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 B737 and ATR aircraft; and
  • Expanded charter business: Particularly related to Alberta natural resources and Northern charters, including for tourism.

"We are proud of Canadian North's track record of providing safe, stable air service to customers in the North,” said Patrick Gruben, Chair of the Inuvialuit Development Corporation (IDC). “This exciting milestone in our partnership with Makivik represents a joint commitment to continue providing air service excellence, a most vital lifeline, to Northerners across the Arctic region.”

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 and exceed 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.

-30-

Media contacts: William Tagoona, Communications Coordinator and Media Relations, Makivik Corporation, (819) 964-2925, wtagoona@makivik.org; Mark Fleming, Chief Financial Officer, Inuvialuit Corporate Group, (867) 678-5429, MFleming@inuvialuit.com

Download the news release


First Air and Canadian North join forces to better serve Pan-Arctic communities

July 6, 2018

OTTAWA, July 6, 2018 – Makivik Corporation (Makivik) and the Inuvialuit Corporate Group (ICG) today 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 B737 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 services 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.

Download the news release

© 2018 First Air. All Rights Reserved.
Reservations: 1-800-267-1247.