Canada’s First Air Set to Modernise Fleet

Canada-based First Air has announced that it is actively looking to add new aircraft to its fleet in order to modernise and decrease the number of aircraft types in use.

Canada-based First Air has announced that it is actively looking to add new aircraft to its fleet in order to modernise and decrease the number of aircraft types in use.

 The airline is investigating the possibilities of both the ATR 42-500 as well as Bombardier Q400 as replacements for its turboprop aircraft currently in use.

“First Air has been impaired for years by maintaining a variety of aircraft. In a fleet of just over 20, we currently need to train personnel and stockpile parts for a total of six aircraft types”, says Brock Friesen, president and CEO of First Air. “In the near future, First Air will concentrate on two aircraft types only.”

Reducing the number of aircrafts in use will not only decrease maintenance costs, but reduce the complexity in its operations.

Bert van der Stege, vice president commercial at First Air, says: “When restructuring an airline, fleet simplicity is key. First Air is very good at operating ATRs and 737s. Besides the ATR replacement, we have embarked on an ambitious study to determine how many additional B737-400 aircraft will be needed.”

The airline began its restructuring project in 2014, when it transferred its sole Boeing 767 to Cargojet, which operates four flights per week on behalf of First Air. The airline also sold both its Hercules C130 freighter aircraft due to high cost of operation and low demand.

CEO Brock Friesen also commented on the type of fleet the airline hopes to operate: “A lean, efficient, and modern fleet combined with our excellence in northern operations will ensure that we maintain our service levels and achieve our cost-cutting targets,” he said.

The company, a privately-held subsidiary of the Makivik Corp. Has called its fleet upgrades a multi-million dollar investment.

The company’s management will present its refleeting proposal at its next Baord Meeting, and once approved, the multi-million dollar project should commence this year, and run until the end of 2016.

UPDATE

First Air has announced its plans to add extra flights between Edmonton and Yellowknife, three-times-weekly from June 1, 2015. This will mean the airline will now operate the route nine times per week, with additional flights on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We are very pleased to increase our presence in the West and expand our operations with additional flights between these two cities”, says Dr. Brock Friesen, President and CEO of First Air.

The capacity has been added on peak travel days to accommodate demands, and the airline plans to use Boeing 737s to service the new routes.

First Air has been flying the Edmonton to Yellowknife route since 1997, after taking it over from NWT Air, a company acquired by First Air that year.

“Yellowknife and Edmonton have deep economic and cultural ties, and a long shared aviation history in Canada’s North. First Air, as the Airline of the North , and the Edmonton International Airport, as the main gateway to Northwest Territories, have a long history together and we're happy to see First Air expanding air service from Edmonton International Airport," said Traci Bednard, Vice President of Passenger Market Development at Edmonton International Airport.

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