THUNDER BAY – There is apparent uncertainty in the skies over Northwestern Ontario. Media reports in the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) are pointing to very turbulenct financial conditions for Wasaya Airlines.
Wasaya Board of Director’s Chair Bart Meekis states in a letter sent to Wasaya community Chiefs on December 16, 2013, and received by NetNewsLedger, in late December, “Unless we are able to substantially reduce the amount owed to (Wasaya) Airways by our ownership First Nations, as represented by you, within the next month, (Wasaya) Airways is in danger of collapsing” – states Sandy Lake Chief, and Wasaya Board Chair Meekis.
That contrasts greatly from what Chief Meekis reported in to NetNewsLedger readers in August 2013. The Chief stated then, “The Chiefs of the owner First Nations are overseeing this transition to ensure that the needs of our community members, our customers and our employees remain our priority. We, the Wasaya Chiefs believe in the bright future of our companies, and are committed to make that happen”.
Former Wasaya Group Inc. CEO and President Tom Kam stated in an interview with NNL, “The bad decisions and mismanagement by Wasaya Airways LP (WALP) senior management that have come to light is a very serious concern to me. The abuse of company credit cards and company credit policies have resulted in a loss of profit for my community for the fiscal year”.
“This allegation can be proven by professional accountants. These allegations will need to be investigated by proper authorities,” continued Kam.
When Kam retired, the board appointed MaryEllen Thomas to the position of Acting CEO. Last August, Thomas reported, that she still believes that Wasaya can be turned around through ethical practices, keeping its business, commitment to work hard and be accountable and preserve the integrity of the vision. Thomas is no longer with Wasaya.
“The vision of Wasaya Group is to create economic opportunities and develop business initiatives and partnerships for the primary benefit of our First Nation communities both on and off reserve,” she stated in August. “The situation remains uncertain right now”.
Wasaya is not talking publically, about the situation. That again is a contrast to last August.
As a privately run company, Wasaya does not have any requirements to take their internal issues public, however there are serious issues that are impacting the communities that Wayaya serves, and by not going public, in today’s world of instant communications, the rumour mill across social media is likely to have the potential to damage the company.
The financial report follows a report from Transport Canada that highlights safety concerns that the government agency has with the company’s air operations.
For communities across Northwestern Ontario, as well as for government and mining companies the impact of a possible collapse of Wasaya Airways would be a serious impact on those communities.
This is a developing story, NetNewsLedger.com will be updating as information comes in.
NetNewsLedger has extended an invitation to Chief Bart Meekis, and Wasaya Acting President and CEO Tom Morris for an interview. As of this report they have yet to respond.