First Air and Canadian North complete deal to begin merging

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The transaction between the Makivik Corporation and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation that will enable them to begin merging their operations, First Air and Canadian North, has been completed. The two airlines will merge into a unified airline that will provide safe and sustainable air service to Northern customers under the name ‘Canadian North’.

The Canadian government approved the merger of the North’s two main airlines in June. This was despite the Competition Bureau stating in February that the merger of the two airlines was likely to result in a monopoly that would lead to a ‘substantial lessening of competition and likely smaller passenger and cargo capacity, increases in price, and reductions in flight schedules.’.

The integration period is expected to take between 18 to 24 months. During the initial stages, First Air and Canadian North will continue to serve customers under two separate brands. Scheduled services customers will continue to book, fly and ship cargo with either airline.

The purpose of this merger is to create an airline that will be able to safely and efficiently serve the North for generations to come, with the ability to continually grow and evolve to meet changing market needs, read a statement from First Air.

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“The highly inefficient status quo of two airlines operating overlapping flight schedules with aircraft capacity that has far exceeded demand on most routes has contributed to higher airfares and cargo rates while impeding their ability to invest in improving their operations.”

The new Canadian North will serve a combined network of 24 northern communities, from its southern gateways of Ottawa, Montreal and Edmonton, with seamless interline connections to destinations throughout Canada, the United States and beyond.

Chris Avery, who will serve as the leader of the merged organization, added that the airlines are embarking on an exciting journey where the destination will be a stronger and more sustainable airline, focused entirely on providing safe and friendly passenger and cargo service to the people, organizations and communities in the North.

“We understand that our actions touch many lives, so we will maintain a ‘community-first’ approach throughout this integration, which includes carefully considering the essential needs of our customers when making decisions, communicating clearly and listening for feedback.”

Johnny Adams, who will serve as Executive Chairman of the merged airline notes that the completion of this merger transaction signifies an important step forward for the people of the north.

“A unified pan-Arctic airline that provides sustainable passenger and cargo service will help to improve the lives of Northerners through the economic growth that it will enable and career opportunities it will create.”

What’s in store next for the airlines:

  • A major priority will be to develop a combined flight schedule that will enable customers of both airlines to book any flight operated by First Air or Canadian North. This schedule will be released later this year, several months before it takes effect. Communities will continue to receive passenger and cargo capacity that fully meets their needs.
  • Canadian North’s popular Aurora Rewards loyalty program will be expanded to all scheduled flights operated by First Air so that customers of both airlines have the ability to earn Aurora Rewards points and Aeroplan Miles that can be redeemed for free flights.
  • A unified ‘Canadian North’ brand will begin to roll out, featuring the First Air’s distinctive Inukshuk logo and red and white colour palette. This brand will be seen in more and more places as time progresses, including the website, uniforms, counter signage and aircraft livery.
  • First Air and Canadian North team members will be brought together under the unified Canadian North banner. This will be a gradual process that will be completed hand-in-hand with combining flight reservations systems, fare products, operational processes and fleets and facilities.
  • The merged airline will strive to lead the aviation industry as a top employer, with a continued focus on recruiting Inuit and other Indigenous team members for excellent careers within this sector.
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