Air North was founded on February 1, 1977 by Joseph Sparling and Tom Wood. The company initially operated a charter service primarily in support of the mining industry. Air North commenced operations with one Cessna 206 and over the next decade operated on wheels, floats, and skis with many aircraft types including the Cessna 150, 172, 185, 206, and 337; the Dehavilland Beaver, Otter, and Caribou; the Britten Norman Islander; the Beech 18 and 80, and the Douglas DC-3 and DC-4. Scheduled services within the Yukon and between the Yukon and Alaska were started in the mid 1980's and in 1996 the company began to replace its piston powered fleet with turbo props.
In 2002 Air North acquired two Boeing 737-200 (B737) aircraft and commenced scheduled service between the Yukon and Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver. Today Air North operates two Boeing 737-200 aircraft configured either in 120Y or 108Y/4J configuration, and four Hawker Siddeley 748 (HS748) turbo props each seating up to 40 passengers.
Air North, Yukon's Airline presently flies from Whitehorse to Dawson City and Old Crow in the Yukon; to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories; to Fairbanks, Alaska (seasonally); to Vancouver, British Columbia and to Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta. The company is one of the largest private sector employers in the Yukon with over 200 full and part time employees.
Since the arrival of the Boeing 737s, the Air North property has expanded and now includes the original Hawker Hangar and cargo area, a new 737 tent-hangar, a new reservations/administration building, an in-house catering and cabin services department, and a small ground equipment hangar. Currently being considered are plans to replace the old Hawker Hangar and 737 tent with a new hangar large enough to fully enclose both an HS-748 and a 737 at the same time, or a single 767 or A310 sized aircraft.
The Yukon Territory, Northwest Territory, and Nunavut together comprise almost 4 million square kilometers, or about 40% of Canada's land mass. Their combined population is just over 100,000, which is about one third of one percent of Canada's population. There are approximately 65 communities in the territories that receive scheduled air service, but of these, only eight are served by jet aircraft. There are only ten paved runways in all of the territories.
In terms of access, many northern communities have no road access; some rely on air and seasonal sea lifts; some use air and winter roads; and some are dependent upon air only.
Canadian Airline Blog
Excerpts from a speech by Joseph Sparling, President Air North
Northerners Fly More Often
- Airport Passenger Traffic , Northern Capitals, 656,351. Population 108,973, Ratio 6.02
- Airport Passenger Traffic, Largest Canadian Airports, 97,987,800. Population 33,592,700, Ratio 2.92
- The foregoing data shows that the ratio of air traffic to population in the north is more than twice the ratio of air traffic to population in the rest of Canada.
Here is an interesting piece of aviation trivia. In Canada today, there are just six airlines providing scheduled domestic passenger service with jet equipment and here they are, ranked inversely by size, as measured by number of aircraft operated.
Canadian Air Carriers Providing Year Round Domestic Scheduled Air Service with Jet Equipment :
- Air North Yukon's Airline
- Canadian North
- First Air
- Jazz/Air Canada Express
- Air Canada
Everybody is very familiar with the last three carriers on the list as they are the largest carriers in Canada, and together, they account for most of Canada's domestic passenger traffic. Known as "the mainline carriers".
The first three carriers on the list may not be familiar to all of you. All three operate primarily in the north and they share some important common characteristics. Lets refer to these three airlines as "the northern carriers".
The three northern air carriers, share some common characteristics as shown below:
- Primary routes are north-south rather than east-west
- Integrated jet and turboprop routes from Territorial capitals to southern gateways and northern communities
- Integrated passenger and freight services using combi aircraft
- Gravel/northern operations capable aircraft
- Northern based/northern employment
- Northern infrastructure
- Northern ownership, including First Nations.
In general, the primary routes for the northern carriers, in terms of both traffic and revenue, are the north-south extra-territorial jet routes between the territorial capitals and the southern gateway cities. These routes are integrated with turboprop routes serving communities within the territories. Freight is an important component of both route networks, particularly the turboprop routes. Most turboprop operations and some of the jet operations use combi-configured aircraft. All of the turboprops operate onto gravel runways and some jet operations are conducted onto gravel runways as well. All three northern airlines need to be well equipped to meet the unique seasonal weather and economic challenges that are found in the north. Additionally, all three northern carriers provide significant employment in the north and have made significant investments in northern infrastructure. Finally, all three northern air carriers are owned by northerners, and their shareholders include more than four different First Nations.
Thu, Aug 4 2011 8:50 AM
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