Airline veteran Chris Avery is the new chief executive of Canadian carrier First Air, succeeding Brock Friesen on 1 October.

Avery will remain CEO following First Air's planned merger with Canadian North, a deal the companies expect to close by year-end, First Air tells FlightGlobal. Both carriers operate in Canada's far north.

Avery was previously First Air's vice-president of customer and commercial operations since joining the airline, which is based near Ottawa, in July 2017. Before that, Avery worked at WestJet for 11 years, most recently as vice-president of network planning, alliances and corporate development, according to LinkedIn.

Earlier, Avery was director of capacity planning and economic analysis at Alaska Airlines and held management positions at Air Transat and now-defunct Canadian Airlines International.

Friesen had been First Air's CEO since March 2013. He was previously Air Malta's chief commercial officer and held positions at a division of Star Alliance Services and at Canadian North, according to his LinkedIn profile.

News of the CEO switch comes just days after the parent companies of First Air and Calgary-based Canadian North announced plans to merge.

"Chris Avery will indeed be the CEO of the new merged airline once all final regulatory approvals of the merger are obtained," First Air tells FlightGlobal.

The merged company will retain the name Canadian North but keep First Air's livery, the companies said on 28 September.

First Air, owned by Makivik Corporation, operates four Boeing 737-400s, two BAE Systems RJ85s and 13 ATR 42s, Flight Fleets Analyzer database shows.

Canadian North operates 10 737-300s, two 737-200s and four Bombardier Dash 8 turboprops, Fleets Analyzer shows.

The airlines collectively serve dozens of destinations, including as far north as Resolute Bay.

Source: Cirium Dashboard