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Establishing the right path

Adapting to change and redefining one's brand is critical to the success of any organization, and it’s precisely why Air Georgian continues to soar.

November 3, 2011  By Rob Seaman

Air Georgian is carving out quite a niche in the commercial carrier business. In Toronto, the carrier is ranked the fourth busiest
user of the airport by traffic frequency.


Adapting to change and redefining one's brand is critical to the success of any organization, and it’s precisely why Air Georgian continues to soar.

The privately owned company is primarily known for its role as a Tier III carrier with Air Canada and the fleet of Beech 1900 aircraft it operates, but the company is much more than that – and it’s evolving to meet the needs of a growing client base and the market it foresees in the months and years to come.

Air Georgian was formed in 1985 as an airport developer. Its first foray into commercial operations came in 1994 and set into motion the development of its commercial carrier business – a segment that today accounts for 87 per cent of its total business volume. It became an “at risk” code share partner of Canadian Airlines in 1997, operating under the banner of Ontario Regional. Then, with the demise of Canadian in 2000, Air Georgian became a Tier III partner of Air Canada and began operating as Air Alliance under a CPA. Today, Air Georgian operates under the brand of Air Canada Express, as a partner of Air Canada. Its focus is on trans border and domestic operations, principally from Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ).


While the Toronto location is a lucrative part of the Air Georgian business model, it also boasts an active and growing operation at Stanfield Airport in Halifax, servicing the Maritimes. As of Oct. 1, a new location was added to the mix when service commenced from Calgary International Airport. It’s a key move, placing the company in the vibrant western market.

The Air Georgian fleet is well equipped for its expansion. The fleet consists of 15 Beechcraft 1900D twin-engine turboprop airplanes, which carry more than 320,000 passengers a year from YYZ, YUL and YHZ to 22 Canadian and U.S. destinations. In Toronto, the carrier is ranked the fourth busiest user of the airport by traffic frequency. In 2011, Air Georgian will fly 390,000 passengers, representing 41,000 flight hours and 28,000 landings. With roughly 87 per cent of the allocation focused on the CPA, the remainder breaks down to 7.1 per cent for shuttle operations, 3.2 per cent to recurring charter and the rest to day-of-ops recovery and ad-hoc services.

Keeping aircraft in the air is a constant challenge for Air Georgian, especially with an ever-expanding fleet.


Adapting to change
Dealing with change is par for the course at Air Georgian, especially in the past few years. With the sudden and unexpected passing of former president Paul Mulrooney in 2009, the company was at a crossroads. Mulrooney was not only well known and respected in the industry, but he had a strong vision for the brand. Eric Edmondson replaced Mulrooney at the helm and implemented several key changes to build on the company’s success. New talent has been added, and Air Georgian has worked hard building on its “next generation” version of its brand. Under Edmondson, Air Georgian has expanded not only its network with Air Canada, but has increased aircraft charter revenues through the addition of new aircraft and new clients. Key partnership agreements have been signed for the provision of third-party aircraft management and maintenance services, and the company has diversified the operational department by offering aircraft training and support solutions.

Air Georgian’s head office and maintenance facilities are located at Pearson. In addition to its scheduled passenger service, the group offers aircraft charter, maintenance, management and technical training services to major airlines, corporations and individuals. On the charter/management side, it has expanded business offerings substantially in recent years. For some time, the charter fleet consisted of a single, Cessna Citation but they now offer multiple Hawker Beechcraft Premier and Hawker 800 aircraft. In addition, they are expanding their maintenance expertise, and have been appointed as an authorized Canadian Service Centre for the Premier. 

Running a 24/7 maintenance operation means Air Georgian is able to offer service beyond its in-house needs. From heavy maintenance through to routine and preventative service, the group is qualified for just about everything on an impressive list of aircraft that includes:

  • Airbus 310, 330, 340

  • Boeing 727-100/200

  • Boeing 737-100/200/300/400/500
  • Boeing 767-200/300

  • Beechcraft 90, 100, 200, 350, 1900C, 1900D
  • Cessna 208, C208B, C208 Amphib
  • Cessna 550/560 Citation
and Citation X
  • DHC-8-100/200/300/400

  • Hawker 700/750/800/850
  • Jetstream 31/32

  • Learjet 24/25/28/29/35/36

  • Piaggio Avanti
Pilatus PC-12

  • Ratheon Premier 1/1A

To further support the depth of maintenance services offered, in June, Vector Aerospace Engine Services-Atlantic, Inc. (Vector) announced it has entered into a service agreement with Air Georgian. Under the two-year deal, Vector is providing Air Georgian with fixed-wing aircraft engine repair and overhaul support from its Vector-Atlantic facility, located in Prince Edward Island. This adds further depth to the Air Georgian service story and enables the operator to focus on supporting clients and internal needs in a variety of areas.

Air Georgian has signed key partnership agreements for the provision of third-party aircraft management and maintenance services.


The value of experience
Training is an important and growing part of the Air Georgian business model. Current programs being offered include dispatch, scheduling and technical ground schools. There is also a flight dispatcher prep program and an ATPL prep program. A new course offering covers outsourced dispatch and aircrew planning and scheduling.

On the technical side, the aircraft technical ground school plays off the firm’s success in maintaining on-time and reliable aircraft operations on a 24/7 basis. As an example, the initial and recurrent technical ground school courses cover Beech 1900D, Citation Bravo and the Raytheon Premier 1A. Experienced in-house instructors teach the curriculum and the classes are held either on site in one of Air Canada Alliance’s classrooms or in a nearby facility (depending on the number of participants). The course material covers aircraft general, lighting, annunciator system, fire protection, electrical system, fuel system, power plant, propeller (if applicable), pressurization system, environmental system, oxygen system, pneumatics, hydraulic system, landing gear and brakes, flight controls, flaps, ice and rain protection, avionics, and more.

Another area that is in demand today is the operational training course. This covers and includes instruction on dangerous goods, ground and airborne icing, emergency response, and safety management systems (SMS).

A popular training element is the approved check pilot course. This detailed educational segment concentrates on initial and recurrent ACPs and covers areas such as administrative responsibilities; ACP delegation and authorities; TC licensing requirements, planning and conducting a PPC, flight test standards, briefing techniques, IFR rules and Procedures, PPC Evaluating and Comments, CRM and TEMs, and CAL Debriefing techniques. There are also options for simulator sessions, which are required for candidates who will conduct rides as an ACP in simulators as a delegate of the Minister of Transportation.

Under new president Eric Edmondson, Air Georgian has not only expanded its network with Air Canada, but has increased aircraft charter revenues through the addition of new aircraft and new clients.


Helping clients move forward
Another recent service addition to Air Georgian’s “service for sale menu” is its scheduling and dispatching service. As demand on smaller flight departments has increased, many have found their ability to handle all things in house has diminished. Air Georgian saw this as an opportunity to put its resources, experience and relationships to work to benefit more clients. For smaller operators, Air Georgian can handle all back-end support and allowing clients to focus on flying and customer service. 

The lists of services available starts with flight plan generation and dispatch releases. All-important aspects such as monitoring weather, diversions and delays are included. Air Georgian can plan your de-icing, arrange cargo, AVIA and payload restrictions and coordinate fueling. 
MEL co-ordination
and execution of ERM 
is part of the service as well. Through its full-service flight centre, the Air Georgian team provides all coordination, arranges slot times,
handles flight permissions
and provides crew communication as needed. It can also “keep the house in order” for clients by providing full
 recordkeeping for up to 90 days post flight. Emergency response manual updates,
dangerous goods coordination
and aircraft flight data optimization and formatting
are also services offered.

On the crew side, Air Georgian can take care of building of pairings, creation of bid packages,
coordinating for line in-doc scheduling
 and building of pilots and flight attendant schedules. This is supported with 
data base loading, 
24/7 crew scheduling, building daily “moment” sheets and flight managements for dispatchers
plus managing and coordination of crew qualification. For smaller or growing flight operations, this support is invaluable in keeping a professional, safe and efficient operation in play.

Forward thinking
It’s positive to see a company succeed and grow in tough economic times, and there’s little doubt Air Georgian is a bona fide Canadian aviation success story. In summing up his company’s success Edmondson notes: “We focus on what we do best, which is being innovative and responsive to our customers, offering them unique solutions and tailored products to meet their needs. Air Georgian’s partnership with Air Canada and the associated scale of our operations is what differentiates our experience and service from all other charter and management companies in Canada. The scale within our flight operations and maintenance departments, the investment in technology and the quality of our external audits (IOSA) are some of the ways that Air Georgian provides a unique value proposition to its customers.”


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