Makivik Corporation (Makivik) and the Inuvialuit Corporate Group (ICG) today 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 Canadian 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 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.
The merger will create a wholly Inuit-owned, new airline focused on Canada’s North. Inuvialuit Development Corporation chair Patrick Gruben says: “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.”
Makivik president Charlie Watt, Sr says: “The world is changing and we need to adapt to new realities. 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.
First Air currently connects 31 communities in Canada’s Arctic with scheduled services and handles some 25 million kilograms of cargo, mainly on combi-aircraft, every year.