The 1970's marked a period of dramatic change for the people of Northern Quebec. With the Quebec government's announcement of the massive James Bay development, the region's Inuit leaders were confronted with the task of negotiating their people's territorial rights.
The Northern Quebec Inuit Association was established and a DeHavilland Beaver aircraft was purchased to transport negotiators and field workers to the region's communities so that the issues surrounding negotiations could be effectively communicated. In 1978, Air Inuit was founded; that first Beaver airplane thus became the flagship of development in the territory now known as Nunavik.
Just as the people and the region have witnessed much change over the last few decades, so too have Air Inuit's operations. When they first began flying to remote communities along our coasts, they faced many unique challenges. In the beginning, winter ice strips were built with community participation. In summer, improvised tundra strips had to be marked out. Dispatchers or pilots often radioed ahead, alerting the people to illuminate the community's landing strip with the headlights of their ATV's or snowmobiles. Everyone helped with the loading and unloading of the planes. Ticket sales often took place over the kitchen table of the agent's home. When caught by bad weather or a flat tire, flight crews were put up in private homes. These northern traditions of adaptability, resourcefulness and first name familiarity mark the character of the airline to this day.
In addition to the Hydro-Quebec division that operates Dash 8 300 and 400 series, Air Inuit's Nunavik operations have grown from that sole flagship Beaver aircraft to include one Boeing 737, ten Dash 8s, three HS748s, seven Twin Otters, three King Airs, one Turbo Otter, one Beaver and two helicopters.
Air Inuit is wholly owned by the people of Nunavik. Self-sustaining without subsidies of any kind, the airline is committed to being responsive to the needs of Nunavik's residents. Air Inuit now employs over 500 people. Air Inuit is more than a commercial enterprise. It is owned by the people it serves and as such, considers keen participation in the social life of Nunavik a primary and unique part of its mandate.
Nunavik, that area of Québec north of the 55th parallel, is home to approximately 10,000 citizens living in fourteen communities located along the eastern Hudson Bay coast, the southern shore of the Hudson Strait, and the Ungava coasts. As the region is without means of ground transportation, Air Inuit provides essential scheduled, charter, cargo and emergency transportation for the region, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.
Canadian Airline Blog
Sun, Jan 16 2011 10:31 AM
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