The first of two ATR 42-300s landed at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport, becoming the latest addition to the fleet of aircraft owned by Air North, Yukon’s Airline.
The ATR 42-300 is a French-built turboprop aircraft that seats up to 42 passengers. It will be used primarily for scheduled passenger service on Air North’s northern route to Dawson, Old Crow, and Inuvik. Currently, Hawker-Siddeley 748 turboprops are used for that purpose.
“The Hawkers continue to serve us well, but we need to make long-term plans to modernize our turboprop operation so that we can continue to provide safe and comfortable service to passengers on our northern route, well into the future.” said Air North Director of Flight Operations Ryan Kinney. “The ATR is an ideal fit for that need.”
Air North purchased the ATRs from First Air, closing the deal on May 26, 2016. The Vuntut Gwitchin Limited Partnership (VGLP) and Kluane Dana Shaw Corporation (KDSC), the business arms for the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (VGFN) and the Kluane First Nation (KFN), jointly provided the financing for the aircraft.
“Local partnership, particularly with Yukon First Nations, has been integral to our success as a company and reflects our philosophy of ‘thinking Yukon first’,” said Air North President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Sparling. “In our experience, this approach has proven itself time and again, and we will continue to use it as a model moving forward.”
KDSC Executive Director Geordan Clark said: “As Kluane First Nation’s development corporation, we look for opportunities that have a good return on investment, that benefit our community, and involve reliable partners we can trust. This deal hits on all the marks. We are proud to partner with Air North. Their success is Yukon’s success.”
“This deal is a win-win for all parties, with spin-off benefits to the broader local economy,” said VGLP Chief Executive Officer Ron Daub. “First Nations are drivers of economic development in Yukon and partnerships like this one highlight the benefits and the opportunities that exist in the territory.”
VGFN owns a 49 percent stake in Air North. The partnership extends back to 2000, when the First Nation’s initial investment helped the company acquire its first Boeing 737 aircraft.
In addition to the new ATRs, Air North operates three Hawker-Siddeley turboprop aircraft and five Boeing 737 aircraft, with another 737 scheduled to enter service in July. Unlike many airlines which lease aircraft, Air North owns its fleet outright.
The second ATR will arrive later this summer.