First Air is devoted to the customers and communities it serves. Northerners count on First Air to fly them to various destinations year-round. Locals, business and leisure passengers rely on the safety record of the company to fly them to northern communities when they visit the North. As such, the Airline of the North strives to provide routes across the North that are efficient, safe and offered in a timely manner.
Travelling in the North is not without its challenges due to inclement weather at any time of the year. When disruptions in service occur, the staff at First Air responds to the needs of its customers with friendly and prompt service to get you on your way as safely and quickly as possible.
Over the years, First Air has grown from a grassroots Northern air service provider to the regularly scheduled passenger and air cargo carrier it is today, connecting more of the Arctic than any other airline. By monitoring routes travellers use most often, First Air provides a crucial service to even the smallest communities in the North. When airports are too small to justify the First Air ATR42, a partnership with Kenn Borek ensures the service operates with a smaller Twin Otter, such as to Kimmirut and Grise Fiord.
From the early years operating charter and aerial survey work, and scheduled passenger flights beginning in the early ‘70s linking Ottawa to North Bay and Sudbury, Ontario, First Air expands its route system in 1995 to include the Baffin region, furthering the scope of charter
operations in the Western Arctic, and by 1997, it solidifies passenger, cargo and charter services throughout the entire North.
In 2005, First Air introduces all passenger Boeing 737 jet service on the Ottawa-Iqaluit route, followed by the Edmonton-Yellowknife route in 2006.
In 2011, First Air and Qikiqtaaluk Corporation announce Qikiqtani First Aviation Ltd, a joint venture airline established to operate routes throughout the Baffin region. In 2012, First Air teams up with Air Greenland offering seasonal service to Nuuk through a codeshare agreement, the first of many more to come.
To further grow the cargo market in the North, a partnership agreement with Cargojet also begins in June 2014, providing seamless air cargo transportation between the 14 major Canadian cities served on Cargojet’s overnight air cargo network as well as the 30 communities served by First Air in Canada’s North.
In August 2015, a codeshare agreement with Canadian North and Calm Air begins and in May 2016, Air North becomes the fourth airline in the growing list of First Air codeshare partners. First Air and Air North begin the codeshare cooperation on the Ottawa – Yellowknife – Whitehorse route, currently operated three times a week.
Also this year, First Air unveils its 156-seater, 737-400. Its high density capacity assists the company during the heavy passenger traffic days, typically Mondays and Fridays from Iqaluit.
First Air, the Airline of the North, further enhances its presence as Canada’s largest northern scheduled carrier with the introduction of its third ATR 42-500 all passenger aircraft, based in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. More customers now get to experience the newer, faster, higher seat capacity, more comfortable and more efficient aircraft. Once the fleet and network changes are completed in the Western Arctic, similar changes will be implemented in the East, out of the airline’s Iqaluit hub. The first ATR 42-500 is expected to be based in Iqaluit in December 2016. The new fleet is part of First Air’s $110M investment program bringing new and improved aircraft to better serve its customers.
In addition to a large scheduled network, First Air’s versatile fleet of aircraft is available for charter throughout the world. Charter bases in Ottawa, Iqaluit and Yellowknife are major staging points for a sphere of charter operations that encompass a unique and demanding array of tasks. With the ability to tailor the passenger/cargo configuration to meet the specific needs of its customers, First Air’s specialty charter service includes the capability to transport people, animals and goods to many places.
First Air, The Airline of the North, is devoted to providing its passengers and cargo customers with more choice and improved connections to the southern gateways of Ottawa and Montreal, as well as more convenient connections and improved transfers with its partner airlines.