August 9, 2022 By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal
THUNDER BAY, ONT. — After a lengthy search, Wasaya Airways has added two more aircraft to their fleet. The two Airstream International Group ATR 72-212 freighters were acquired from Hawaiian Airways after a nail-biting bidding session.
“We were looking for these aircraft for quite some time,” said James Ward, Wasaya Air president and CEO.
Ward says they found them parked at a U.S. hangar in Idaho, and sent some of their aircraft mechanics to inspect them to make sure that they were in good shape.
“We did have to put a bid in on them because there were some other interested parties on these aircraft,” he said.
“The company wasn’t willing to separate them so we had to purchase both of them. The bidder ahead of us, for whatever reason, backed out of the deal and that gave us an opportunity to kind of swoop in and snag them.”
Wasaya Airways has been providing essential service for the transportation of food, supplies and building materials to remote northern communities. With 23 aircraft in their fleet, the additional two planes will replace two small aircrafts in the fleet that will be retired.
Ward said there will be a slight increase in flight crew personnel while existing crews will be trained on the two new aircraft. The two freighters are about 30 per cent larger than the aircraft in the existing fleet and feature large cargo doors that will be convenient and practical when transporting lumber, trusses and larger building supplies.
“They will be our biggest aircraft in our entire company,” said Ward, adding that he expects them to arrive later this summer.
“This means that we’ll be able to provide a better service to our ownership, communities and all the other communities that we serve. It means that we’ll be able to move the larger supplies quicker.
“It means that we’ll have more efficient and newer aircraft capable of moving more freight at one single time. It’s kind of modernizing our airline and it’s a step forward in the right direction and future for us.”
With hangars based in Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout, Pickle Lake and Red Lake, Wasaya Airways has been depended upon for emergency services as well. With seasonal flooding and wildfires, their aircraft plays an essential role in evacuations and transporting supplies. They are currently co-ordinating with the Ministry of Natural Resources to evacuate communities on the James Bay coast due to flooding with the use of their passenger style aircraft.