NorTerra eyes Canadian North
New owners will base operations in Yellowknife: Iqaluit office also planned
by Doug Ashbury
NNSL (Apr 29/98) - A Northern consortium's plan to buy Canadian North could bode well for Northerners.
NorTerra, equally owned and managed by the Inuvialuit Development Corporation and Nunasi Corporation, expects to acquire the Northern subsidiary of Canadian Airlines by May 31.
Under the deal, the new owners will be Northern-based, said Canadian North's director of sales and government relations, Kelly Kaylo. "Any time you can close the gap between shareholders and customers, the decisions will be more beneficial to the North."
Pat Lyall, NorTerra's chairman of the board, said the new company will be based in Yellowknife and have an office in Iqaluit as well.
"I definitely see this as a positive," Top of the World Travel president Kim Warner-Lee said.
NorTerra's move to buy Canadian North, if successful, will be the second aboriginal acquisition of a major Northern carrier in less than a year.
Last summer, First Air, owned by Quebec-based Makavik Corporation, acquired NWT Air from Air Canada. Makavik is the land claims corporation for the Inuit of Northern Quebec.
For travellers, Warner-Lee said NorTerra's move should mean business as usual.
A letter of intent to transfer Canadian North to a wholly-owned NorTerra subsidiary was signed about a month ago. Financial details of deal, which still requires regulatory and corporate approvals, have not been disclosed.
IDC represents the Inuvialuit of the Western Arctic while Nunasi is a corporate arm of the Inuit of the Eastern Arctic.
"We have a long history of providing vital services to the North and that service will be enhanced and strengthened by this agreement," Canadian North vice-president Barry Rempel said.
The new company will contract flight operations and maintenance as well as in-flight and support services from Canadian Airlines.
Canadian North currently connects Yellowknife with Edmonton, Norman Wells, Inuvik, Cambridge Bay, Rankin Inlet, Resolute Bay and Iqaluit.