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Southern Exposure

In June 2002 Air North decided to compete with Air Canada on routes south


October 1, 2007
By Rick Erickson

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201-southAIR NORTH HAS BEEN in business since 1977. The venerable Yukon player
is headed by Joe Sparling who, in addition to his administrative
responsibilities takes his place as a line captain on the carrier’s
turboprop fleet. It is refreshing to call a major regional carrier only
to be told, “sorry, the boss is out flying.” The Vuntut Development
Corporation, a whollyowned subsidiary of the Vuntut Gwitchin First
Nation centred around Old Crow, 780 kilometres north of Whitehorse,
recently increased its ownership in the carrier to 49%.

The
airline provides scheduled and charter service from its home base at
Whitehorse. It also provides a range of ground-handling services to
off-line carriers serving Whitehorse airport, such as First Air. Within
the region, the carrier serves Whitehorse, Dawson City, Old Crow and
Inuvik, as well as Fairbanks and Juneau in Alaska.

In June 2002
Air North took a massive step forward: It began jet service to
Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary by acquiring a pair of B737-200s.
Territorial services are undertaken with three HS748s in a 40-passenger
layout or various combi configurations, and with a single Beech 99
operated with 12 passengers. Until the leasepurchase of the B737s, the
company had little outstanding debt and has been profitable virtually
every year of its existence. Adding the Boeings meant the carrier has
had to double its workforce to its current 65 full-time employees,
including three new pilots. Annual payroll also doubled to $3 million.


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