First Air and Canadian North to merge

Makivik Corporation and the Inuvialuit Corporate Group (ICG) have signed a definitive agreement to merge First Air and Canadian North.

Following the receipt of government regulatory approvals, Makivik (which wholly-owns First Air) and ICG (sole owners of Canadian North) will proceed to complete the merger, with the transaction expected to be complete by the end of 2018.

The airlines first announced their intention to merge in July this year, with the companies aiming to better serve the Pan-Arctic communities.

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

“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.”

Offering more flights to more destinations, it is hoped the airline will help expand Arctic tourism in the communities it serves, by increasing demand for tourist-related businesses and services.

The wholly Inuit-owned airline also intends to be an economic driver in the region as one of the North’s largest private-sector employers.

“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.”

As well as seeing service improvements for customers, the companies believe the merged airline will have business and environmental benefits, such as through the consolidation of duplicate, undercapacity flights.

Headquarters for the proposed airline will be located in Ottawa but for the meantime, First Air and Canadian North operations will continue while the merge is finalised.

Image: Left to Right, Johnny Adams, executive chairman of First Air; Duane Smith, chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation board of directors; Charlie Watt, president, Makivik Corporation; Patrick Gruben, chair of the Inuvialuit Development Corporation. Credit: Makivik Corporation

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