THUNDER BAY – Bearskin Airlines are spreading their wings just a little further, and with new aircraft.
Effective May 1, 2011, Bearskin Airlines will introduce a new aircraft type to its route network within Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario.
A Saab 340 aircraft operated by Calm Air of Thompson, Manitoba in Bearskin Airlines livery will provide service between Winnipeg, Red Lake, Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay. The 34 seat Saab 340 is equipped with twin turbine engines, standup cabin and lavatory. This pressurized aircraft will offer enhanced comfort and similar speed to Bearskin’s current equipment type, the 19 passenger Fairchild Metroliner.
The Saab 340 will be used within Bearskin Airlines existing route network on flights where demand has grown to warrant an increase in capacity. Upon successful integration of this new aircraft type into Bearskin’s system, a second aircraft will be introduced as early as fall 2011. Bearskin Airlines plans to have its own crews operating and maintaining this equipment type once granted authority from Transport Canada.
Also on May 1, 2011, Bearskin Airlines will commence nonstop scheduled service between The Region of Waterloo International Airport and Montreal Trudeau International Airport. Montreal will become Bearskin Airlines’ 18th city served and its second nonstop destination from The Region of Waterloo International Airport.
Utilizing the 19 passenger Fairchild Metroliner, five round trip flights will be offered each business day including three nonstop flights and two flights offering same aircraft service via Ottawa. Weekend service will also be available.
Once support for Montreal-Waterloo service has been demonstrated, and as additional equipment comes online, service via Ottawa will be terminated as early as fall 2011 in favour of all nonstop Fairchild Metroliner service.
The Region of Waterloo International Airport is located along the HWY 401 corridor and serves the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph. Bearskin Airlines has served The Region of Waterloo International Airport since October 2007 when three flights daily were launched from Ottawa. This service has since increased to five flights each business day.
“We’re excited to be moving into the next chapter for Bearskin Airlines,” commented Harvey Friesen, President of Bearskin Airlines, “The Saab 340 offers enhanced comfort for many loyal customers who have supported our NW Ontario company since 1963.”
Founded in 1963, Bearskin Airlines is named after the Northern Ontario community of Bearskin Lake. No other airline offers more scheduled service linking Northern Ontario’s five largest cities and many of its smaller communities to Winnipeg in the west and Ottawa in the east. Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Winnipeg serve as hubs for Bearskin Airlines, facilitating connections between Bearskin flights and to Canada’s major airlines. Although Bearskin’s roots are in Ontario’s far north, its current routes are more southern in nature and the
airline has evolved to serve the business community offering high frequency service on thin routes in small cities and in niche markets.
With the addition of Montreal, Bearskin will offer more than 100 scheduled departures daily to 18 destinations in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Bearskin Airlines maintains major bases of operation in Thunder Bay and Sioux Lookout and employs 285 people. The company will operate 14 Fairchild Metroliners and a single Saab 340 aircraft commencing this spring.
“Exchange Income Corporation is a growth oriented company,” commented Cliff Friesen, Executive Vice President of Bearskin Airlines, “and we are being encouraged and supported in many growth opportunities that lie ahead for Bearskin Airlines.”
On January 1, 2011, Exchange Income Corporation (TSX: EIF) completed its acquisition of Bearskin Airlines as first announced on September 15, 2010. EIC is a Canadian corporation who, in addition to Bearskin Airlines, also owns Perimeter Aviation, Keewatin Air and Calm Air along with specialty manufacturing companies in Canada and the United States.
Bearskin’s management and staff are unchanged as the company continues to focus on growth opportunities within markets served as well as new markets.