Nunavut government awards medical, duty cargo contract to merged airline

Winners of $100M bonanza are Calm Air and Canadian North

Under the terms of its new contract with the Government of Nunavut on medical and duty travel, as well as air cargo, Canadian North will service the Qikiqtaaluk and Ktikmeot regions and the Iqaluit-Ottawa route. (Photo by Jane George)

By Jane George

Two airlines have walked away with the Government of Nunavut’s lucrative new agreement for medical and duty travel, as well as air freight: Calm Air International LP and Canadian North Inc., which is now merging with First Air.

The GN announced the contract awards, worth at least $100 million in total, late on Friday, Aug. 23, a week before the current contracts are set to expire.

The contracts carry an initial term of three years with two renewal options, for two years, and one year.

“The total potential term of this contract is six (3+2+1=6) years,” the GN spelled out in its announcement of the award.

After a request for proposals was sent out this last January, the GN received bids from Bradley Air Services Ltd. and First Air, Calm Air International,  Canadian North Inc. and North Star Air, the GN said on Aug. 23.

Under the terms of the contract, Calm Air will serve flights in and out of the Kivalliq region, including Rankin Inlet, Winnipeg and Sanikiluaq.

Canadian North will service the Qikiqtaaluk and Kitikmeot regions, as well as the following routes: Iqaluit–Ottawa and Iqaluit-Rankin Inlet-Yellowknife-Edmonton.

Since the RFP bids were received, Canadian North and First Air have moved ahead with a merger of the two airlines, which Transport Canada approved last June.

The merged airline will be branded as Canadian North, but will use First Air’s inuksuk-based red and white livery.

“Canadian North has been awarded a share of contract for the Qikiqtani and Kitikmeot regions based on a rigorous RFP process,” said a statement from First Air, sent to Nunatsiaq News on behalf of the merged airlines.

“We are happy that we will be able to service this contract as a merged airline, leveraging the greater scale we can achieve to provide the best possible service to the GN and the communities in the Qikiqtani and Kitikmeot regions.”

The contracts also include a public travel component, which requires the airlines to offer a percentage of seats to the general public at an economy-class fare.

The new contracts come into effect in January 2020.

RFP 2018-74 Medical & D… by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

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(11) Comments:

  1. Posted by John Peyton on

    It’s just one of those competitive monopolistic tenders. So much for oxymorons.

  2. Posted by pissed off on

    Can somebody bring some light on this isse by providing a comparison between the last contract and this one ?


    • Posted by Qanuq? on

      Can someone explain how this is a competition process when we will have only Canadian North in our region?

      • Posted by NM on

        An RFP is a competitive process. Any airline could have bid (only 4 did) and won. The GN explained long ago that there isn’t enough business to sustain multiple airlines. They fly empty planes all the time here and it’s obv not working out, hence the merger. Two airlines hasn’t made flying any cheaper for us. I wonder what these new economy fares will cost?

        • Posted by Leonard Netser on

          In and out of Winnipeg for travelling residents of Kivalliq are often having to stay in the city for lack of seat availability on Calm Air or First Air. What planes with empty seats are you talking about?

  3. Posted by Perpetually frustrated customer on

    Great news for Calm / Comedy Air, I hope they re-invest into their completely chaotic, fly by the seat of your pants, non-system of aCargo service out of Winnipeg. One gets tired of waiting a week, two weeks… etc, for a basic shipment of goods.

    • Posted by Dwayne on

      I have done alot of flights from Yellowknife to Cambridge Bay and know some things about the airline business. Planes are expensive to fly, empty ones make no money. Full ones can make money. If companies can not make money the planes are not well maintained and the crews are not well trained. Better to pay more and be safe than pay less and not be.
      In Europe there is Ryanaur air and you can fly all over Europe for $250. This will never be the case in Nunavut, get over it.

      • Posted by Comedy Air on

        We’re talking about Cargo Dwayne, not stripped down to nothing, ultra cheap passenger service like ‘Ryan Air’ which I’ve flown and though it sucks, it gets you there on time. Comedy air does regular 737 flights into the Kivalliq twice a day, 6 days a week and occasionally loads a cargo jet. The issue isn’t empty planes, the issue is total chaos and total disorganization in the cargo division. Reading comprehension, bro.

      • Posted by Really on

        Just because you flew with an airline does not make you an expert. Obviously flying with empty planes does not provide any efficiency, but you cannot compare European or any other cheap airlines with this case.

        Keep on flying with our northern airlines, there is no other choice and keep educating yourself about the airline business

        • Posted by Comedy Air on

          Let’s focus on the point; how do your comments about empty planes have anything to do with the disorganized disaster that is the Comedy Air Cargo operation in Winnipeg and the Kivalliq region? Please make the connection, i’m not seeing it.

          • Posted by Really on

            My comment goes towards Dwayne, and since you place such intelligent replies, I thought you’d have figured this one out. However, I also agree with the point of being disorganized, cargo, luggage and flight services alike. Unfortunately, there are not many options in the Kivalliq

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